Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Some unusual lace bobbin spangles

Spangles are the circles of beads attached to the end of English East Midlands lace bobbins to add weight and thus provide tension on the thread and also to stop the bobbin rolling on the lace pillow. I’ve written before about the most common type of spangles, composed of six square cut glass beads with a larger central bead and often two smaller beads at either side of the bobbin shank (see blog of October 2020). This time I thought I’d show you a few more unusual spangles. Two of those in the image above have buttons as the centrepiece of the spangle, which were probably of sentimental value to the original owner. Another incorporates a seashell which could have been given to the lacemaker by a sailor in the family or collected on a very rare trip to the seaside. The wooden bobbin contains a large decorated cylindrical bead and two carved smaller beads, interestingly I have seen similar large cylindrical beads in the collection of ‘trade beads for Central Africa’ at the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford. The bobbin below that has a good collection of glass beads and a silver coin dated 1837. The final bobbin in this image has a birdcage spangle where a ‘cage’ of beads has been made around a much larger bead by threading smaller beads on to wire and wrapping them round the large bead. These tiny beads were called ‘seed’ beads and are also the type of bead used to make striver pins (see my blog of September 2020).

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