"A Sheep's Coat at Sunrise, a Man's Coat at Sunset"
Talk about the marvels of modern technology! Or in this case, the marvels of 1811 technology. Yes, I'm talking about the amazing story, which I ran across recently, of the Newbury Coat... "a sheep's coat at sunrise, a man's coat at sunset."
There was a bet of a thousand guineas riding on the manufacture of the Newbury Coat. English cloth manufacturer John Coxeter bet Sir John Throckmorton that, starting with sheep at sunrise on a summer day, he could turn the wool on their backs into a "well-woven, properly made" coat by sunset.
Shortly before 5:00 AM on June 25, 1811, a shepherd led two sheep into the village of Newbury, Berkshire. The villagers watched as the sheep were shorn. Then the wool was "washed, stubbed, roved, spun, and woven." Woven on a loom which would look primitive to us today, though it was state of the art in 1811.
Once the woolen cloth was woven, it was "scoured, fulled, tented, raised, sheared, dyed, and dressed." Then the tailor and his assistants, who had already taken Sir John's measurements, went at it, "cutting out, stitching, pressing, and sewing on buttons, in fact, generally converting the cloth into a 'well woven, properly made coat.'"
The hunting coat was finished at 6:20 PM. Sir John, wearing the coat, sat down to dinner with a number of other gentlemen that evening. The coat he was wearing at sunset had been wool on the backs of sheep at sunrise that morning.
The marvels of the modern loom! The marvels of modern 1811 technology!
As a footnote, the manufacture of the Newbury Coat was reenacted on September 21, 1991. They managed to finish only an hour quicker than John Coxeter's record of almost two centuries previously.