The “Look” of Andreas Hagenbuch’s 1785 Inventory
The article, Inventory of Andreas Hagenbuch’s Estate, includes a piece of primary research which gives us an understanding of the clothing and household goods that Andreas owned at the time of his death. Certainly not all of his worldly goods are listed in the inventory because the family would have kept those items needed for his third wife, Maria Margaretha, to continue living comfortably and for his business of farming to be carried on by his son, Michael.
In addition, we now surmise from this inventory that he probably had small businesses of distilling and weaving. Through some calculations, taking into account inflation, the worth of this inventory (including the listed monies owed to him) in today’s money is approximately $111,000 to $167,000. Referring back to the article Andreas Hagenbuch’s Last Will and Testament, in that document he left approximately $200,000 to his children and grandchildren in today’s money. This does not factor in the worth of his land, buildings, and other items not listed. We realize that Andreas was quite the entrepreneur. Upon his coming to America in 1737 to his death in 1785, he had amassed a small fortune.
As an 18th century reenactor for over 25 years, many of the items listed in Andreas’s inventory are reproduced in the items that I own to recreate my living history personas. Not only can we read about some of the items that Andreas personally had, but through the use of recreated clothing and household goods we have a sense of what Andreas wore and used.
Most of the items are common to what a man would have worn and used in 1785. Also, keep in mind that Andreas was an older man living in Berks County which was still an “old fashioned” area of Pennsylvania Deitsch culture. So, Andreas’s fashions would not have been the high fashions of Philadelphia.
Shirts, shoes, and stockings were clothing items that were universal. Another common piece of clothing was a cravat, also called a neck wrap or neck stock. These were usually long pieces of white or dyed linen to wrap around the neck a few times and tied off in front. Neck wraps sometimes had lace at the ends to add a bit of “haute couture”. Also worn around the neck would be kerchiefs which could be taken off to wipe sweat from the brow or blow noses. Interestingly, no neck wraps appear in Andreas’s inventory.
Generally, men wore white linen shirts (although eight of them seems like a large number for a man to own who lived in northern Berks County at that time), buckled or laced shoes, and knitted stockings or “bag hose” – stockings cut out of fabric that were sewn up the back. Both knitted and bag hose need leather garters or cloth ties (termed tapes) to hold them above the knee. The commonly worn knee breeches would buckle, tie, or button below the knee cap. Andreas lists two pair of deerskin breeches but no linen breeches, which were common. We know the family was tanning deer hides so it makes sense that the breeches he may have preferred were made of deerskin, they being most durable and quite comfortable.
Listed are two hats and three caps, but no description of these items. These could include a tricorn, a round hat, a workman’s cap, or a knit cap; four of the most common hats worn at that time. Also listed are coats and jackets, the difference being that coats were longer and fuller. Jackets were usually shorter and possibly unlined for summer wear.
A “jacket without sleeves” is what we call a waistcoat in the 18th century, now called a vest. In the mid 1700s the waistcoats would have been longer. By the time of Andreas’s death in 1785, the waistcoat had been shortened and cut more like an upside down V in the front, similar to the vests worn today. A greatcoat is an overcoat usually with a cape over the shoulders. Along with the greatcoat, another item of outer wear listed is mittens.
The most interesting pieces of clothing in the inventory are the drawers. Drawers usually refer to a thin pair of breeches worn under the regular knee breeches – the first underwear. These were very uncommon in the 18th century not becoming common wear for men until the mid 19th century. The listing of “linen drawers” may refer to linen breeches instead of an underwear item. Since the inventory only lists deerskin breeches, this makes sense; Andreas not only owned the everyday working breeches of deerskin, but also finer, more formal breeches made of linen.
But, the “pair of striped drawers” most probably refers to the underwear type. In discussing this with clothing experts, the opinion is that these were very uncommon for a man to own who lived in the rural areas of 18th century America. This speaks to Andreas being a “man of means,” a man who might have been ahead of his time in fashion. We can only surmise.
The long list of linens, tablecloths, and other fabric goods, (like in the previous article on Andreas’s will and testament) leads us to believe that he and the family members living with him or nearby, along with the usual servants, had a cottage industry of weaving. Linen is made from flax which was commonly grown by most farmers at that time. But, once again, textile people that have been consulted are curious as to the large amount of fabrics that Andreas lists in his will and in the inventory.
As for distilling, brandy was a specialty item that was made from fruit. The fruits used to produce the brandies could have been peaches and pears, but most probably apples. Furthermore, we can surmise (as well as know from future Hagenbuchs’ inventories) that Andreas was most likely distilling whiskey.
Finally, the inventory lists plates, dishes, spoons, kettles, pots (even a sprinkling pot), and other household items. It’s curious that these items were not kept by the family, but this probably meant that enough other, newer items were available that these were not needed (hence, an “old” iron kettle).
The photos accompanying this article have me, the 5th great grandson of Andreas Hagenbuch, posing in clothing similar to what is listed in the inventory. Over the mantel of the fireplace is a Pennsylvania rifle of the Berks County school – a modern piece of craftsmanship that has often been used by me in deer hunting. And although we can surmise with a high percentage of correctness what Andreas’s clothing and some of his personal items looked like, we have no idea what his facial features, color of hair, or physical build were; although this author has always pictured Andreas as looking like himself, with perhaps less of a paunch and a shorter stature.