|FULL, WRAP-AROUND, SILK SUFFRAGETTE SASH IN VIOLET & GREEN, WITH "VOTES FOR WOMEN" TEXT, DESIGNED BY SYLVIA PANKHURST FOR THE WOMEN’S SOCIAL & POLITICAL UNION (U.K.), PRODUCED BY TOYE &. COMPANY OF BIRMINGHAM, CIRCA 1908
|Frame Size (H x L):||12" x 49"|
|Flag Size (H x L):||Approx. 4.5" x 41" as folded (4" x 44" unfurled)|
|Silk, grosgrain ribbon sash, found in full wrap-around form, with a green and violet striped edge and a wide, white center, across which “Votes For Women” is printed twice in black, now faded to a blueish/purplish hue. This is the earlier, British version of a textile later produced, in extremely similar form, for use in the United States. The sash was designed by the most famous of all British Suffragettes, Sylvia Pankhurst, for the leading organization of the time in the U.K., the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU). The colors employed here were introduced in 1908 by Emmeline Pethick Lawrence, to distinguish that organization. With green representing hope, white for purity, and purple for dignity, the sashes—commissioned by the WSPU from Toye & Company of Birmingham, and sold by various retailers—first appeared at a rally in Hyde Park, on June 21st of that year.
One of the primary outlets for the sale of these textiles was Selfridges Department Store, an American-owned business that opened its doors at the same time as the founding of the WSPU, in 1908. The owner was Wisconsin-born Harry Gordon Selfridge of Detroit and Chicago, a partner in Marshall Fields, who, unimpressed with London-based merchants of the time, successfully opened upscale outlets to compete with Herrod’s and the like.
Golden yellow was the customary color of the suffrage movement in America; a tradition began with the first actual campaign to give women the right to vote. This took place in 1867 in Kansas, the first state to hold a referendum on the issue, when suffragists Susan B. Anthony and Carrie Stanton focused their efforts there and wore sunflowers—the state flower—in a show of support, as well as yellow ribbons. The flower was an appropriate emblem for a rising sun and growth, which led to its use in other states, and the carryover of the color to many other objects of the campaign for years to come. In America, a wider array of alternative colors are seen, in comparison to in the U.K.
Green, white, and violet gave rise to the fitting acronym “GWV,” or “Give Women the Vote.” Various groups in the States substituted green or violet for golden yellow, or used all of the above, or used the British combination specifically, as an alternative. The most notable American organization to employ the traditional British colors was the Women's Political Union (WPU) of New York City (which spread to New Jersey and Connecticut), instituted by American suffragette leader Harriot Eaton Stanton Blatch (1856-1940), daughter abolitionist Henry B. Stanton and suffrage pioneer Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Blatch, who, as a teenager, helped her mother and Susan B. Anthony compile the landmark book on the Suffrage movement in America in the 1880’s, moved to the U.K. for 20 years, married a British businessman, then returned in 1902 and became involved with became one of the first Suffrage leaders to actively recruit working women and gain the number of supporters necessary for influence at the polls. Harriot borrowed some of the imagery used by her British suffragette peers, along with the purple and green colors, to distinguish her organization from the others active at the time, which were mostly comprised of socialites.
One of the most intriguing factors of this particular sash is that it was discovered in the full format, to be worn over the shoulder and wrap entirely around the body. In the States, full sashes like this are almost never encountered. While similar, silk ribbon was produced for the same purpose, rectangular segments, with just one instance of the “Votes for Women” text, are what is usually encountered. These were pinned across the body, instead of wrapped, likely with the notion of frugality, and to have more ribbon distributed, so that more participants in parades and rallies would be adorned with the colors and slogan. Because wrap-around sashes cannot be displayed well behind U.V. protective glazing, in an attractive manner, I removed the machine stitching so that both sides of it can be viewed, and to dramatically improve its presentation.
Mounting: The textile was mounted and framed within our own conservation department, which is led by expert staff. We take great care in the mounting and presentation of flags and have preserved thousands of examples.
The background is 100% cotton twill, black in color, that has been washed and treated for colorfastness. The mount has been placed in a modern frame, with a step-down profile and a finish that is very dark brown, nearly black, with red highlights and undertones. To this a flat profile molding, with a finish like old gunmetal, was added as a liner. The glazing is U.V. protective plexiglass. Feel free to contact us for more details.
Condition: There is some soiling and inconsistent fading throughout. Visual presentation of the latter was mitigated with an extremely minor amount of professional color restoration.
|Collector Level:||Advanced Collectors and the Person with Everything|
|Earliest Date of Origin:||1908|
|Latest Date of Origin:||1910|
|Price:||Please call (717) 676-0545 or (717) 502-1281|