These beautifully worked braces belonged to Baron Sir Ferdinand von Mueller, the first director/founder of Melbourne’s botanic gardens. The current director of the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, Tim Entwhistle, opened our annual exhibition ‘A Secret Garden’. At the end of his speech he displayed them with pride. He was then swamped with members trying to photograph those braces!
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More information: the braces are on fine canvas displaying floral motifs in cross stitch, in Berlin needlework style. We can’t say what thread was used, but Berlin needlework was typically stitched with wool. There is no background stitching and so there are areas of empty canvas, but the colour of the canvas blends well with the stitches. For comfort, the braces were lined with soft chamois leather. According to Professor Entwhistle, the braces are very short. Either Baron von Mueller was a short person, or he wore his trousers very high! The Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne were established in 1857.