Wednesday, 28 October 2020

Spangles on antique lace bobbins

Spangles are the circles of beads attached to the end of English East Midlands style lace bobbins. Their function is to add weight to the bobbin, to provide tension for the thread, and to prevent the bobbin rolling on the pillow. The most common type of bead in nineteenth century spangles is the square cut glass bead. In an interview with The Bedfordshire Times in 1912, Robert Haskins the bobbin maker explains that they were made by melting a piece from a stick of glass on a copper wire, which made the central hole, and then pressing the sides with a file which caused the markings on the bead and its square shape. Eye beads were also popular and some can be seen in the image above. These were round beads with spots of colour added to their surface to give the appearance of eyes. The most well-known were Kitty Fisher beads celebrating the famous actress, with blue and red dots representing her mouth and eyes. Beads were not the only objects on spangles however, many of them incorporated seashells, coins, buttons and beads that would have had a personal meaning to the lacemaker.

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