Muffs: A Useful Accessory

Muffs were used for centuries to keep the hands warm, and sometimes to keep up with incidental items. The diarist, Samuel Pepys penned on Sunday Nov. 30, 1662, “This day I first did wear a muffe, being my wife’s last year’s muffe, and now I have bought her a new one, this serves me very well.”
Yes, they’ve been worn by men and women although more so and for a longer time period by women and girls. It is a simple stuffed cylinder, open on both ends into which one places the hands for warmth. They were made of silk, wool, fur, etc.

While the images below are prime examples, muffs were not limited to the elite.  As is often the case, the better examples are what were preserved and the better off families could afford painted portraits.  

“Angora muffs. – These muffs are made with the Beard of goats from Angora, the country where these animals have been for a long time, silky and overall very white; that which is used for men’s muffs is of a great beauty. The price is 120 or 100 livres. One has them even for 4 louis or 84 livres.” – Notice de l’Almanach sous verre, 1786.


Mrs. Wilbraham Bootle, 1781, by George Romney. Ntl. Gallery of Scotland
“November”, 1781. “Birds dead!”. Carrington Bowles, London.
Madame de Pompadour with a fur muff. 1763.
Sold by Kerry Taylor Auctions, embroidered muff, 1770s-80s
British, ca. 1780. The Met.
Attributed to Francois Hubert Drouais, Paris, 1727-1775. Oil on canvas. Sold by Sotheby’s.

Published by thehistoricfoodie

I write articles for various magazines and books about foods and cooking techniques. My work centers primarily around historic foods and I travel throughout the country doing cooking demonstrations at various local, state, and national venues and teaching an occasional period cooking class. I've done cooking demonstrations on national and local television, including Chicago's WGN.

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