It was an amazing trip. I have a lot of new information, but, the legal thingies I signed say I can't actually show you any of the photos I took, since the images of the items are the intellectual (but not physical, since I hold the photos in my hot sweaty paws) property of the museums that care for them. I think this is entirely reasonable, and I'm okay with it, even though y'all probably aren't, since I'm not allowed to share.
Never mind, lots of interesting things will probably be written by me.
Some of them even might be about the objects I saw.
I don't really feel up to a travelogue of the trip (besides, pinkleader did a really nice one), probably because at least a little bit of it was spent with me puking my guts out and wondering why everything I threw up looked and tasted like curry when I hadn't had anything curry-like for months. One of the bad things about package tours (and why I will never go on one unless the incentive is really impossible to pass up, like this one) is that there is guaranteed to be at least one plague monkey on board who doesn't have the kindness to either stay home, or, if the tour is really too one of a kind to miss, wrap themselves in sterile layers of plastic and face masks and stay back from everyone else.
It might have been food poisoning, though - there was a bite of a dodgy egg sandwich in there, but it was nearly 12 hours before, and I usually start feeling food poisoning within the hour. My digestive system may be slow, but it knows all about vomiting.
Anyway, puking aside, there was lots to see and do, especially since I skipped some of the tour delights and went shopping instead. I think I left the book on dollhouses behind at my mother's, but no biggie - her dog Alfie can have some extra snax (he likes eating books. While we were there, he devoured Dr. Zhivago, a couple of lighter pieces of fiction - presumably as a palate cleanser - and finished up with a small, but meaty volume of verse. Her dogs are nothing if not literate).
I do have pictures and stuff, but I haven't sorted them or my thoughts yet, so I just wanted to post something so that y'all know I'm still alive. I'll be more verbal once the jet lag has worn off and I've refilled one of my prescriptions, which ran out yesterday (don't have the refills yet, because I am still working out the new on-line scrip system required by Bob's insurance).
So, as a little bite of information, almost all the jackets we saw (and we saw quite a few, including my favourite, but I didn't check all of them, since it didn't occur to me to look until we'd seen a couple) have the wrist end of the sleeve open for three inches or so, like one that would button up on a doublet. There is no fastening point (such as a button or a hook or a tie), and not all of them have the little turned back decorative cuffs (the Maidstone jacket, for instance), but they pretty much all have the opening, which is entirely edged with lace on the jackets that have lace. This isn't so the sleeve can be turned back, as far as I can tell (though some of the paintings of women in jackets show the sleeve possibly turned back - I'll give you some examples when I have waded through laundry and have some energy again), but because the jacket sleeve should be tight, and it's a bit hard to put on tight sleeves that are fitted at the wrist (I can do it, but I have mutant hands, and oh, it's still a pain, especially when you want to take the damn thing off). Once linen and lace cuffs are pinned on, the sleeve will stay in place nicely, and there is no need for any kind of fastening other than a pin.
Also, you really understand why these things are no longer on display - some of them are turning to dust as you look at them. One jacket (my favourite one) is so delicate it cannot be moved at all, and the box it lives in must be carried by two people at all times to prevent it from sliding around in the box. One nightcap we looked at seemed sturdy enough until the curator turned it over so we could see the brim and inside, and it shed three spangles just from that. The threads and fabrics are in extremely delicate shape, and only a couple of the pieces we saw will ever go on display again. Yes, it's a loss to the general public, but it is a far greater loss to lose these things forever, when there are still new things to be learned from their examination. Want to see more things? Make a lot of noise about preserving museum funding - most of the places we visited are hurting. Badly. One can argue about the everyday usefulness of museums, but these places hold our history, and there's only so much of it left - once it's gone, it's gone.
The last thing that interested me was how much 16th and 17th century needlework is in the hands of private collectors. Now I want to go prowling around my cousins' (the rich ones) houses and see what they've got squirrelled away. Suffice to say, there's a lot that never gets seen by anyone except other collectors. It may show up once in a while at auction, but generally, you just don't know what's out there.
(And if you do find out, you can't take pictures unless you buy the thing. If I had a spare $80,000, I could be the proud owner of a nightcap, but as it is, I just have the thinky-type thoughts about it.)
(Oh, and the catalogue. No, can't take scans of that, either.)