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The 19th Century - Continued





Vestiarium Scoticum

In this 1842 book (in English, not Latin) the boundaries between artistic fantasy and provable historical fact were successfully blurred as the Celtic revival became fashionable. The authors were the Sobrieski Stuart brothers who claimed descent from Bonnie Prince Charlie and access to a version of a 16th century manuscript describing tartan patterns.

The brothers gained entry to the social circles of Scottish gentry in London and the Highland chiefs in Scotland, especially through offering tartan patterns for a "name". They evidently loved the subject, producing many good patterns that had traditional elements though some tired variations on established patterns. Whilst neither their pedigree nor their document have been accepted, many of their tartans live on as successful patterns.


Victoria and Albert

In 1842 Queen Victoria spent her honeymoon with Prince Albert in Scotland, and her reign was to give considerable patronage to "things Scottish" and tartan in particular. Her court became active in developing new royal tartans, decorating Balmoral with tartan, attending Highland Games and so on. She became the over-arching context for the developing need to record tartans, especially within the enlarged concept of clan.

W & A Smith

In 1850, William & Andrew Smith published Authenticated Tartans of the Clans and Families of Scotland and this completed half a century of basic recording. This and previous books satisfied much of the emerging Victorian market.

Later Books

In 1886, James Grant usefully published a work based upon samples of tartan then in use, called The Tartans and Clans of Scotland. The first recording of the excellent "Hunting Stewart" pattern appeared in it.

This was followed up by D.W. Stewart's Old and Rare Scottish Tartans, focusing on the more historically authentic designs and using beautiful silk weaves as illustrations, overcoming the difficulty of printing tartans in books. Only 300 copies were made, making it rare itself.

D.W. Stewart represents a line of tartan research that continued into the 20th century, handed down to his son Donald (D.C.) Stewart.

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