"Poor people couldn't afford any nice stuff, not even a silk handkerchief." 

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Well, it all depends. Plenty of the runaway indentured servants listed in the PA Gazette were wearing silk handkerchiefs. Pack traders carried silk ribbons and other little trinkets in their packs. Moreover, there was a vibrant trade in used clothing in the 17th and 18th centuries. Could a woman of humble  means have afforded a new silk gown? No. Could she have a silk ribbon for her neck? Probably.  Could she wear a silk gown she got from her employer or second-hand? Certainly.  It's all context.



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Copyright 2003, M. E. Riley