Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Lace collars from 1904

I found these lace collars being advertised in a catalogue by the Samuel Peach & Sons lace company dated 1904. It includes collars, stoles and scarves made from a variety of machine-made laces ranging in price from 1/ to 10/3. 

This circular collar in Plauen lace is almost 8 inches wide and cost 2/-. Plauen lace was popular at the time as it was quite intricate, yet reasonably priced. The design is embroidered using a Schiffli machine either on to a net background or on to a backing material which can then be burnt away chemically to leave the stitched pattern. The lace collar with long stole ends in the main image is guipure chemical lace also produced in this way. Pat Earnshaw in her book on machine laces includes four patent summaries from the late nineteenth century explaining different techniques for producing chemical lace. She also notes that ‘the manufacture of guipure lace was associated particularly with St Gall (Switzerland) and of net laces with Plauen (Saxony).
This scarf is labelled as being of real Maltese lace. It is 45 inches long, 6 inches wide and costs 10/3. From the illustration it is hard to tell whether it is handmade bobbin lace or a machine copy. It is much more likely to be machine made as at this time the Leavers lace machine was capable of producing a good imitation of Maltese bobbin lace. In contrast, the pattern seems irregular in places suggesting that it is handmade, although this may just be errors in the reproduction of the image, and it is more expensive than the other collars. The Peach company clearly imported lace from companies in Plauen and St Gall but whether they would have imported handmade lace from Malta I do not know. It just seems a different business approach. It’s a shame we can’t see the actual lace and know for sure.

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