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History Of Lace

Lace, like porcelain, stained glass, and other artistic things, has
always been an object of interest to all classes. Special patterns of
laces date from the sixteenth century. The church and court have
always encouraged its production. While the early lace work was
similar to weaving, in that the patterns were stiff and geometrical,
sometimes the patterns were cut out of linen, but with the development
of the renaissance of art, free flowing patterns and figures were
introduced and worked in.

The lace industry first took root in Flanders and Venice, where it
became an important branch of industry. Active intercourse was
maintained between the two countries, so that intense rivalry existed.
France and England were not behind Venice and Flanders in making lace.
The king of France, Henry III, encouraged lace work by appointing a
Venetian to be pattern maker for varieties of linen needlework and
lace for his court. Later, official aid and patronage were given to
this art by Louis V. Through the influence of these two men the demand
for lace was increased to such an extent that it became very popular.

Under the impulse of fashion and luxury, lace has received the stamp
of the special style of each country. Italy furnishes its Point of
Venice; Belgium its Brussels and Mechlin; France its Valenciennes,

Very little is known of the early lace manufacturers of Holland. The
laces of Holland were overshadowed by the richer products of their
Flemish neighbors. The Dutch, however, had one advantage over other
nations in their Haarlem thread, once considered the best thread in
the world for lace.

In Switzerland, the center of the lace trade, the work was carried on
to such a degree of perfection as to rival the laces of Flanders, not
alone in beauty, but also in quality.

Attempts have been made at various times, both during this century and
the last, to assist the peasantry of Ireland by instruction in
lace-making. The finest patterns of old lace were procured, and the
Irish girls showed great skill in copying them. Later a better style
of work, needlepoint, was modeled after old Venetian lace--the
exquisite productions for which Americans pay fabulous prices at the
present day.

The lace manufacturers of Europe experienced a serious set-back in
1818 when bobbinet was first made in France. Fashion, always fleeting,
adopted the new material. Manufacturers were forced to lower prices,
but happily a new channel for export was opened in the United States.

The machine-made productions of the Nottingham looms, as triumphs of
mechanical ingenuity, deserve great praise.

The first idea of the lace-making machine is attributed to a common
factory hand, Hammond Lindy, who, when examining the lace on his
wife's cap, conceived a plan by which he could copy it on his loom.
Improvements followed, and in 1810 a fairly good net was produced.

Perhaps the most delicate textile machine known, in its sensitiveness
to heat and cold, is a lace machine. A machine can be made to run in
any climate, provided it is so installed as to be protected from
either extreme of temperature.

The various substitutes for hand-made lace are legion; for what the
inventor cannot achieve in one way he can in another. There remains
however the fact that the productions of machinery can never possess
the charm of the real hand-made work. Machine-made lace is stiffer
than hand-made lace.

Previous: History Of Manufacturing

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