The Stock

Figure 1.--This Afro-American boy had a tin-type portrait made, we think some time after the Civil War. Unfortunately the portrait is undated. We would guess he was photograohed in the late 1860s or perhaps the early 70s. We do not know if he was a freed slave or a freeman. He looks as if he comes from a prosperous family so we think he most likely came from the North. We are not sure how to date the boy's jacket, but the stock he is wearing was more popular in the 1860s than the 70s. Note that it is stripped. Most of the stocks we have seen were wider and all black.

An alternative to the fashionable cravat existed in the 18th and well into the 19th century--the stock. A cravat was a generally long piece of cloth that would around the neck and tied in front and was also coloful. The stock, on the other hand, resembled protective collars that are today worn for whiplash or other neck injuries. They were normally black.


We are not entirely sure when stocks first appeared. An art expert on the "Antiques Roasshow" suggested about 1825. As our HBC website relies heavily on the photographic record, we can not yet confirm usage in the 820s and 30s. We do note stockjs being worn with the earliest photographs (Daguerreotypes) in the 1840s portrits we have collected. A good example is an unidentified American boy about 1847. We notice that they were very common in the 1850s and 60s. We no longeer see very many by the 1870s. We note a few boys wearing what looks rather like a stock, but a kind of transition phase with the ends of the stock showing, looking rather like a bow. A good example is an unidentified American boy, about 1850. We still see stocks into the 1870s. An example is an unidentified Indiana boy. We see a later example, Dan Brown, we think in the 1880s.


Stocks were made of washable fabrics. They were commonly made of muslin, sometimes with cloth stifners inside.


As far as we can tell, stocks were mostly black. The boy here, however, looks to be wearing a stock with colored stripes (figure 1). I'm not sure how common that was.


The stock appears to have evolved from the cravat which appeared in the 17th century. Cravats were wrapped many times around the neck and then tied in front. Eventually, this evolved into the stock which was a single band around the neck, with the ends tied up in a bowlike configuration. Stocks were fastened in back by a hook or knot. The stock in front had what to the modern eye looks something like a pre-tied bowtie. Some stocks looked like a wide cravat swathing the neck almost like a poultice. They were not the most comfortable of neckwear. A boy or man wearing one might force the individual to stand or sit upright in a rather stiff positon.


We note men and boys wearing stocks throughout Europe and North America. It was of course a European style. Fashions were set in Europe and followed in North Smerica. We do not have enough images to know if there were stylistic differencs from country to country. The stock was a very basic garment so there would not seem to have been masny dufferences. We are gradualy building country pages, including America, Canada, and other countries.


Boys in the 18th century after breeching tended to wear the same styles as their fathers, including stocks and cravats. This continued until the late 18th century when specialized clothing styles dor boys appeared. One style was the skeleton suit which was often work with comfortable if fancy looking open ruffled collars. As skeleton suits passed from the fashion seen in the 1840s, boys by the time they were about 10 years old through the 1860s would again often wear stocks like their fathers.


We notice some neckwear that seem to be stocks tied in bows. A good example is two London boys in the 1850s. We are entirely sure how to classify this. Are they a type of stock or are they the rigins of the bow tie. We just do not know enough about the subject to properly classify the neckwear at this time.


The 19th stock appears to have evolved into the modern bowtie. The modern bow-tie appears to be a direct descendent of the basic 18th-century stock. The bow tie was not initially a style of neckwear specifically associated with boys. American boys in the 1940s-60s often wore bow ties when they dressed up. This was especially true of younger boys under 12 or 13 years of age. The reason for the popularity of the bow tie is probably the clip on versions which permitted the boy to wear one with out tieing a knot. Today boys are less likely to wear ties at all, especially bow ties.


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Created: October 20, 1999
Last updated: 11:15 PM 8/28/2010