Traditional and simple, yet beautifully constructed, the style of this Shaker bonnet may lead you to think that it is at least a hundred years old, if not more. Though reminiscent of styles popular in the mid 1800s, according to the owner, “This bonnet belonged to one of the last surviving Shaker sisters at the Canterbury Shaker Village in Canterbury, New Hampshire. It was sold after she passed away, many years ago.” The last Shakers at Canterbury Village might not have passed away as long ago as you think. Eldress Bertha Lindsay and Sister Ethel Hudson, the last two Shaker sisters at Canterbury Village, passed away in the early 1990s; only about 25 years ago.
When extraordinarily fragile pieces are treated by The Center, often the conservators recommend handling the pieces as little as possible to preserve their longevity. So when Gloria Diaz brought in a delicate lace mantilla and expressed that she would like it to be functional for future ceremonies, we knew we had our work cut out for us.
At the time Gloria brought in her mantilla, it had been used by three generations in twenty-four weddings, ten baptisms, on “Taking of the Veil,” and one First Communion. Since the lace garment had been both well-loved and well-used, it exhibited inevitable signs of wear. As Gloria noted, “I realized that the mantilla was near the end of its life if we did not do something to improve its condition. Because of its special place in our family, we wanted the mantilla to be something that existing and future generations would use.”