200+ year Wedding Shawl/Piano Shawl

Katrinka_FidoAugust 30, 2011

Hello Friends!

OK, now I'm getting into the cedar chest & ran across a box. On the outside was a note written by Gpa dated 10/1997, right now. This is Grandma Giordano's Wedding Shawl. This is WELL over 200 years old. And her full name.

I think it is absolutely BEAUTIFUL & HUGE. I had been looking on line for Wedding Shawls & was finding nothing that looked like this. Found much lighter weight, not as interesting or what looked like table clothes. THEN I ran across Piano Shawls. WAY BACK THEN DID THEY REALLY WRAP IN A PIANO SHAWL FOR THEIR WEDDING? Why would you cover a piano? Did pianos get cold? LOL! Is there a difference in a piano shawl & a wedding shawl? However, it does have some condition issues. There are a couple of 1-2" splits on a couple folds. I need a REPUTABLE RESTORER for the satin fabric. I'd love to get it repaired & somehow display. Or unless something like this should be kept in storage. What is the proper method for storage for something of this caliber? I think I'd be struck dead or at a minimum haunted by at least Gpa if sold. Or would something like this even have a value with the splits?....NO, gonna have to keep. My listening ears are on for ANY & ALL advice. Thanks in advance. Katrinka

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I think silk, not satin. Sorry about that.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2011 at 6:20PM
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What are the dimensions?

Yes, one did use piano shawls. I used to collect them because I had an old gothic piano and when I got rid of that, still used mine on a long sideboard. Most of mine were linen or a fine muslin with cotton lace on three sides.

Two hundred years takes that shawl back quite a way. Did your ancestors live in the U.S. back then?

    Bookmark   August 30, 2011 at 7:15PM
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silk can be taffeta, satin or all sorts of things.
Figure out who Grandma Giordano was....and when she was married. 200 years ago would be 1811....that's a long time!!
I gather by the name, Giordano, she was Italian and a wedding shawl was an "Italian thing"....
Piano shawls were mainly 2 different kinds....those that were fringed on 3 sides for the old Victorian Square Pianos, and triangular fringed on all sides for the standard "grand piano shape"...people didn't use piano shawls for a wedding shawl!! LOL!
If you believe your grandfather, this is a shawl your grandmother used for her wedding....can you imagine how elegant she must have looked wrapped in that silk shawl with the fringe?
The only thing I am wondering about is the age....I would say perhaps 1880 at the earliest....and perhaps 30 to 40 years later.
It's fabulous...have it professionally cared for and stored in an archival container.
Linda C

    Bookmark   August 30, 2011 at 7:28PM
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When I said people did use piano shawls I was answering the comment "Why would you cover a piano? Did pianos get cold?" I wouldn't think they would be used for a wedding, either and that's why I wanted to know the dimensions. It was a dust catcher, mostly.

Usually old fabrics are not folded, but would be wrapped around a tube because as you have noted, the splits would occur on the bends of the folds. Whomever restores your piece can advise you the proper way, becuase you don't want any foxing either.

Family oral history can be invaluable, but not always accurate. My eighth g'grandfather would have been married about a decade before you state your shawl was worn, and I am in my sixties. That's nine generations for someone my age. Does your g'ma Giordano go back that many years? Of course it may have been an heirloom when she got it.

I hope you get some answers to your questions.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2011 at 8:56PM
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Holy cow Calliope....your family did fast generations. My 6th great grandfather rode with Paul Revere.....and I'm about 10 years older than you.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2011 at 12:15AM
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Jeez, my family was realllly slow. I'm also in my sixties & my 2nd g'grandfather fought in the War of 1812 although he must have joined as a boy at the end of the war.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2011 at 9:42AM
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I don't think it's that old. Piano shawls were popular in the Victorian era, and later, but not as early as 1812.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2011 at 12:51PM
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I did a brief google for 'wedding shawl' & quite a few things come up although nothing specifically Italian. The link below has a good overall image of one sometime after 1840.

Here is a link that might be useful: Wedding Shawls

    Bookmark   August 31, 2011 at 1:19PM
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Here's one that is not silk on the link below..
And here's a jacked made from an old "piano shawl" sold at a site for vintage wedding accessories.

In googling I am finding that people DID use piano shawls for a wedding and vice versa!

My grandmother always had a shawl on her piano and when someone wanted to play the piano and open the top, you had to flip the shawl back. My mother used to talk about the paisley shawl her grandmother had on her piano.

At any rate your shawl is lovely and had a history in your family....Take good care of it.

Here is a link that might be useful: cotton linen wdding shawl

    Bookmark   August 31, 2011 at 2:21PM
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cyn427 (zone 7)

Antiquesilver, I will be 60 next year and our family must be slow, too. My great-great-grandfather was born in 1820!

    Bookmark   September 3, 2011 at 12:55PM
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Check out piano shawls on Ebay; they are a hot seller now. Some go for thousands of $.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2011 at 9:22AM
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