Woolwork embellished with glass beads from Italy was all the rage in Victorian times. Women set out to fashion useful and decorative items for their homes. The embroidered chair seats, stool covers, cushions, pictures, shelf hangers and other items, including tea cosies, all heavily beaded.
The designs were limitless, but florals were among the most popular. Myriads of peonies, forget-me-nots, lilies and roses adorned many projects. In this cosy, the stitcher combined a deep-hued teal blue-green with large, full-blown flowers and interesting leaves strewn all over both sides. The sumptuous colors harmonize well with each other. Many of these flowers have centers of steel-cut beads that catch and reflect the light even more than the rounded glass beads.
The cosy has its original braided trim with one hanging tassel in silk threads on one side. The soft wool yarn shows great color retention and provides a wonderful background for the white, taupe, gray, cream and black beads that comprise the flowers and leaves. It is lined inside with quilted green silk.
Both the woolwork and the beadwork are in excellent condition. The silk braid shows some wear in places and has detached in one place on one side, though this is a very minor fault. The cosy’s inside silk has worn, but this is not seen from the outside. Considering that this tea cosy is over 150 years old and for a household item used often, its condition is remarkable.
It measures about 15 inches wide at the bottom, and it is 11 inches to the top knot.
Victorian Mid-19th Century Woolwork and Beadwork Tea Cosy