18th Century Women’s Calashes

The Annals of Philadelphia suggests that what we call a “calash” was just one of several different styles of bonnets:

“The musk melon” bonnet, used before the Revolution, had numerous whalebone stiffeners in the crown, set at an inch apart in parallel lines and presenting ridges to the eye, between the bones. The next bonnet was the “whalebone bonnet,” having only the bones in the front as stiffeners. “A calash bonnet” was always formed of green silk; it was worn abroad, covering the head, but when in rooms it could fall back in folds like the springs of a calash or gig top; to keep it up over the head it was drawn up by a cord always held in the hand of the wearer.

Other styles of bonnets are discussed on this linkspage.

Depictions of calashes