RVA50 Object 6 “Gentleman’s Suit, circa 1780’s”

Gentleman’s Suit, circa 1780’s

Dr. John Peter LeMayeur
Silk velvet, silk, and metal

The new “Americans,” a term that had been pejorative until the 1781 Franco-American victory at Yorktown, lacked a strong national economy and banking system in the early years of Richmond’s development.  The old system of relying on European currency continued into the 19th century, and Richmond’s economy was still strongly rooted in tobacco.  Consumers exchanged this crop for essentials as well as luxury goods, such as fine European silk cloth like that used in this gentleman’s suit and waistcoat (V.52.52.10).  The war made many Americans continue their boycott of British goods and increase their trade with France, Britain’s traditional enemy.

This particular suit was worn by Dr. John Peter LeMayeur, a French émigré to the new United States.  Dr. LeMayeur was a dentist who treated George Washington.

Gifts of the Misses Boykin, 1932 and Mr. and Mrs. A. Randolph Holladay II, 1952