Tag Archives: smuggling in a crinoline

A Cure for the Grecian Bend: 1868

A Cure for Grecian Bend.

The Hamilton (Canada) Register, tells the following story, which should be a warning to fair smugglers and Grecian Benders particularly:

The Grecian bend was put to a novel use on the Buffalo and Lake Huron Railway a few days since. In one of the first class cars sat a handsome young lady, dressed in the height of fashion. who appeared to be suffering under a rather painful attack of Grecian Bend. As is usual on the train’s arrival on the American side, the baggage of the passengers was examined by the United States Custom officer.

“Have you any baggage, Miss?” inquired the officer of the aforesaid young lady.

“Nothing except this,” replied she, producing a small valise.

The officer examined and returned it, at the same time scanning the person of the young lady, in a manner that almost amounted to rudeness.

“Will you follow me to the Custom Office, Miss? said the official. The corners of his mouth were almost drawn into a smile, and a mischievous twinkle was perceptible in his eyes as he led the way to the searching-room.

Arrived in the office, the lady’s face, which had previously been of marble whiteness, assumed a crimson hue.

“What is here, ma’am?” said the officer, passing his hand over the back of her dress. “That is my Grecian bend,” replied she, meekly casting down her eyes. “I did not know there was any duty to pay on it; if there is, tell me how much and I will pay it.”

“There is no duty to pay on it, but we must examine it,” replied the obstinate officer. A female searcher was procured and, after strong protest on the part of the lady, the mystery of the “Grecian Bend,” alias “the Montreal wiggle,” was unraveled, and found to contain twelve yards of black silk velvet, forty yards of rich lace, four white ostrich feathers, six pairs of French kid gloves, and a bottle of Gilbert’s Magic Hair Restorer.

The United States customs are now convinced of the reason why the Grecian bend has had such a rage, and they intended to give their particular attention to any cases of this infectious disease which may come under their notice for the future. All cases of Grecian bend will be immediately put under quarantine on their arrival across the border.

Washington [PA] Reporter 23 December 1868: p. 2

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil is always intrigued by the ingenuity of lady smugglers. Of course, contemporary fashions gave plenty of scope to exercise the larcenous imagination.

A very common Method of Smuggling practised by the Fair Sex, is by assuming the Appearance of far advanced Pregnancy; although the Bantling proves generally to be Silks and Laces. A Lady well known in the Circles of Fashion, practised this Trick with great Success for many Years, until being big with Child five Times in one Year, the Custom-House Officers began to be staggered by such prolific Powers, and kindly lent a Hand to deliver her of her Burthen.

The Derby [England] Mercury 15 July 1784: p. 1

The Dutch custom-house officers at Rosendael, a few days, seized a quantity of lace to the value of 1200 florins, which a lady coming by the railway from Antwerp had concealed under her crinoline. The anxiety depicted on her countenance is said to have betrayed her.

Liverpool [Merseyside England] Mercury 30 March 1858: p. 7


The Customers-officers at Haumont (Nord) last week arrested a lady’s maid who was attempting to cross the frontier with no less than twenty-nine kilogs. of Belgian tobacco concealed in her crinoline.

The Exeter [Devon England] Flying Post 23 September 1863: p. 6

Worth visitng dress 1875

Worth visiting dress, 1875 Kerry Taylor Auctions

One of the ladies had fully $5,000 worth of these laces in a bustle, and they served the purpose exceedingly well.

New York [NY] Daily Herald 18 September 1875: p. 11

A novel method of smuggling has been devised. A woman was discovered in Florida, coming into the United States with a large tin bustle filled with fine Cuban rum.

Lawrence [KS] Daily Journal 21 December 1886: p. 3

agrecian bend



Mrs Daffodil has previously written about a clergyman turned smuggler by his naughty daughters, a charming widow and her baby, imposing on Her Majesty’s Customs agents, and a professional lace-runner who denounces an amateur lady smuggler.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdote

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.