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Flip Your Wig

June 2024
1min read

A LIVING MUSEUM OF COLONIAL TIMES ACQUIRES A SURPRISINGLY RARE EXAMPLE OF A COMMONPLACE OBJECT

Colonial Williamsburg has announced its borrowing of an eighteenth-century wig from the East Hampton Historical Society, of New York. The museum already owned two wigs it thought were from colonial times, but they turned out to date from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The newly borrowed wig, though—a curly white horsehair model—is fully authenticated and promises to give Williamsburg staffers who portray an eighteenth-century barber and wigmaker a much firmer understanding of how the craft was practiced. The European fashion of wearing wigs originated in the seventeenth century at the court of Louis XIII, known as Louis the Bald. By about 1790, it had disappeared except among bishops, judges, and lawyers (although, as the Encyclopedia Americana points out, “a modern form, the toupee, designed to simulate the natural hair, is widely used in the United States and elsewhere"). Colonial Williamsburg, “conveniently located just 150 miles south of Washington, D.C.” (in the words of a press release), can be reached at www.colonialwilliamsburg.org or by telephone at 757-220-7286.

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