18th Century Muffs

Last updated: Feb 20, 2024

Of the use of muffs by men, The Annals of Philadelphia notes: “Gentlemen in the olden time used to carry mufftees in winter. It was in effect a little woolen muff of various colours, just big enough to admit both hands, and long enough to screen the wrists which were then more exposed than now; for then they wore short sleeves to their coats purposely to display their fine linen and plaited shirt sleeves with their gold buttons and sometimes laced ruffles.”

Women often wear a muff with a pelisse.

See also a printed design for a woman's muff c. 1725.

  • KCI AC5402 86-26-14, “white silk pongee with polychrome silk embroidery, pailette decoration”
  • Met 1984.101, feathers and fur, Britain, third quarter of the 18th century
  • MFA 43.1822, France, c. 1774-1793; “White silk covered by white silk ribbon and cord lattice studded with blue, salmon, purple chenille flowers, fly fringe and flowers at sides. White silk lining. Filled with wool batting.”
  • Met 1978.280.1, embroidered silk, Britain, c. 1780
  • Massachusetts Historical Society 4129, a muff belonging to Hannah Dawes Goldthwaite Newcomb, “Silk exterior and silk lining, both champagne color, with undetermined middle layer. Exterior has embroidered design of an oval floral wreath with a posy of the same flowers and leaves on three stems, tied together with a blue bow.” Probably made in Massachusetts and “fashioned from an earlier peice of clothing.”
  • Malmö Museum 239, a silk muff with polychromatic silk and metal-thread embroidery, with silver spangles and ribbon embroidery
  • MFA 43.1820, England, c. 1785-1800; “White silk satin with central mezzotint portrait medallion of young woman with lamb in pastoral setting, seed pearl border. Wreath of pink and white crépe flowers and green leaves, green and russet silk embroidery and purple crépe bows. White silk lining. Filled with batting.”
  • MFA 43.1823, France; “Green-yellow silk satin with appliquéd white satin central mezzotint portrait medallion of young woman. Wreath embroidered with silver yarns and spangles and red foil leaves. White silk lining. Filled with batting and paper.”
  • MFA 43.1824, England, c. 1785-1800; “Ivory silk satin muff, central medallion printed with mezzotint portrait of a woman; embroidered with metallic thread, beads, and spangles”
  • Colonial Williamsburg 1958-25, France, c. 1785-1810; “Silk, silk chenille and gauze, metallic sequins and bullion, paint; replaced lining and cotton stuffing. The hand-painted ornament depicts the allegorical figure of Hope with her anchor. The muff originally had strings or ribbons drawn through channels on the ends to snug the fit around the wrists. Faint stitch marks show the original position of the drawstring channels. Muffs were important fashion accessories during this period, worn even indoors.”
  • Malmö Museum 230, a silk muff with a landscape drawing
  • MFA 95.1426; “Blue satin ground with a powder of white dots. The muff is lined with pink silk and faced with pink satin. Used in Venice.”
  • Rijksmuseum BK-NM-9708, c. 1780-1795; large muff of long-haired beige fur, with black satin ribbons sewn at equal distances, lined with light green and white silk. Probably worn by a man.
  • Met C.I.39.13.251, c. 1799-1821

Depictions of people wearing or carrying muffs