The John Bright Collection owns a number of fine examples of men’s waistcoats dating from the 1830s to the 1850s. During this period waistcoats provided decorative elements to masculine attire that had become increasingly subdued, employing a great variety of colours, fabrics and decoration.
This waistcoat has been made from a finely ribbed, bright blue silk woven with small self leaf sprigs and larger floral sprigs in light gold metallic thread that retains much of its original brightness. On the right breast is a curved third pocket, less common than two pockets, but increasingly seen from the middle years of the 19th Century. Contemporary photographs and fashion plates show them used to accommodate watches. It is lined and backed in glazed cotton, with large tabs at the back worked with three pairs of handworked eyelets; the leather facings reinforcing the base of each front are characteristic of the latter half of the 1840s and the first half of the 1850s. At the base of the right front edge a loop of matching , but lightweight, silk has been attached in order to anchor the waistcoat to the top of the trouser button, though it appears too fragile to have been much practical use.