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Title: Chats on Old Lace and Needlework
Author: Lowes, Emily Leigh
Language: English
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       *       *       *       *       *


_With Frontispieces and many Illustrations Large Crown 8vo, cloth._

    By Arthur Hayden.

    By Arthur Hayden.

  (How to collect and value Old Engravings.)
    By Arthur Hayden.

    By G. Woolliscroft Rhead.

    By E. L. Lowes.

    By J. F. Blacker.

    By J. J. Foster, F.S.A.

    By Arthur Hayden.

    By A. M. Broadley.

    By H. J. L. J. Massé, M.A.

    By Fred. J. Melville.

    By MacIver Percival.

    By Arthur Hayden.

    By Fred. W. Burgess

    By Fred. W. Burgess.

    By Fred. W. Burgess.

    By Arthur Hayden.

    By Arthur Davison Ficke.

    By Stanley C. Johnson.

    By Arthur Hayden.

    By Arthur Hayden.


       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: Mary Sidney, Countess of Pembroke.]


Born about 1555. Died 1621.
Buried at Salisbury Cathedral.
Painted probably by MARC GHEERAEDTS.

    "Underneath this sable hearse
    Lies the subject of all verse.
    Sidney's sister, Pembroke's mother.
    Death! ere thou hast slain another
    Fair and learn'd and good as she,
    Time shall throw a dart at thee!"




With 76 Illustrations

T. Fisher Unwin, Ltd.
Adelphi Terrace

First Impression         1908
Second Impression        1912
Third Impression         1919

[All rights reserved.]


This little book has been compiled to emphasise and accentuate the
distinct awakening of English women and Needlecraft Artists to the
beauty of the ancient laces and embroideries which we own in the
magnificent historic collections in our great public Museums.

We are fortunate in possessing in the Victoria and Albert Museum
monumental specimens of both lace and needlework. Among the sumptuous
lace collection there are most perfect specimens of the art of
lace-making, and priceless pieces of historic embroidery made when
England was first and foremost in the world in the production of
Ecclesiastical embroidery.

The lace collection particularly, without compare, is illustrative of
all that is best in this delightful art, being specially rich in
magnificent pieces that can never be again obtained. These have mostly
been given, or left as legacies, to the Museum by collectors and
enthusiasts who have made this fascinating hobby the quest of their
lives. In addition to the collection formed by the generosity of the
donors, the authorities have exercised a very catholic judgment in
selecting the choicest and most illustrative examples of the
lace-maker's craft.

In the section devoted to embroideries, more particularly English (as it
is with our own country's needlework I propose to deal), nothing more
glorious in the Nation's art records can be found than the masterpieces
of embroidery worked by the great ladies, the abbesses and nuns of the
Mediæval period. In almost every other branch of art England has been
equalled, if not excelled, by Continental craftsmen; but in this one
instance, up to the Reformation, English work was sought after far and
wide, and as _opus Anglicum_ formed part of church furnishing and
priestly vestments in every great cathedral in Italy, Spain, and France.

It cannot be too soon realised that, as with old furniture, porcelain,
and silver, much of the finest embroideries of England, and a vast
quantity of the ancient laces of Italy, France, and Belgium are being
slowly but surely carried off to the New World. American dollars are
doing much to rob not only the Old Country of the fairest flowers of her
garden, but the Continent of their finest and best examples of the
genius of the past. The Vanderbilts and the Astors, among others,
possess immense fortunes in lace, whilst that omnivorous collector Mr.
J. Pierpont Morgan gives fabulous sums for any fine old relic of
embroidery. Many pieces of both classes of needlecraft have found a
permanent home in the Metropolitan Museum of New York, and are lost for
ever to the English student.

It is, therefore, a pleasant duty to add my little quota of information
to the study of these fascinating and exquisite branches of fine art
which so specially appeal to all women by their dainty grace and
delightful handicraft. I hope I may arouse some little enthusiasm in my
countrywomen in the study of the past glories of both subjects, and in
the possibility of once again becoming first and foremost in the latter

I beg to acknowledge the pleasure and help I have received from the
perusal of the late Mrs. Bury Palliser's exhaustive "History of Lace,"
and Lady Alford's "History of Needlework," and Dr. Rock's invaluable
books on "Ecclesiastical Embroidery."





     The History of Lace. 1 vol. Mrs. Bury Palliser. Sampson,
     Marston & Low. 1865. £2 2s.

     Dentelles and Guipures. 1 vol. E. Lefebure. Grevil. 1888.

     Ancient Needlepoint and Pillow Lace. Alan Sumnerly Cole.
     London. 1873.

     The Queen Lace Book. London. 1874.

     Of Lace. Alan Sumnerly Cole. 1893.

     Point and Pillow Lace. A. M. Sharp. George Newnes & Co. 7s. 6d.

     Venice and Burano. Ancient and Modern Lace. M. Jesuram. Venice.

     The History of Handmade Lace. Mrs. Jackson. Upcott Gill & Son.
     1900. 18s.

     Seven Centuries of Lace. Mrs. Hungerford-Pollen. 1st vol.
     issued 1908.


     Textile Fabrics. Dr. Daniel Rock. South Kensington Handbook
     Series. 1876. 1s.

     Needlework as Art. Lady Marion Alford. London. 1886. £4 4s.

     English Embroidery. A.F. Kendrick. George Newnes & Co. 7s. 6d.

     Art in Needlework. Day & Buckle. Batsford. 7s. 6d.



PREFACE                                                   7

BIBLIOGRAPHY                                             10



   I. A BRIEF HISTORY OF LACE                            21

  II. THE ART OF LACE-MAKING                             33

 III. THE LACES OF ITALY                                 45

  IV. THE LACES OF GENOA AND MILAN                       57

   V. THE LACES OF FRANCE: NEEDLEPOINT                   69

  VI. THE LACES OF FRANCE: PILLOW                        85

 VII. THE LACES OF FLANDERS                              99

VIII. MODERN BRUSSELS AND MECHLIN                       119

  IX. OTHER CONTINENTAL LACES                           131

   X. A SHORT HISTORY OF LACE IN ENGLAND                139

  XI. ENGLISH LACES                                     155

 XII. SCOTCH AND IRISH LACE                             169

XIII. HOW TO IDENTIFY LACE                              179

 XIV. SALE PRICES                                       199


CHAPTER                                                PAGE

   I. OLD ENGLISH EMBROIDERY                            205

  II. THE GREAT PERIOD                                  217


  IV. TUDOR EMBROIDERIES                                245


  VI. STUART CASKETS AND MIRROR                         267


VIII. STUART PICTURES                                   289

  IX. SAMPLERS                                          305




XIII. EMBROIDERY IN COSTUME                             355

 XIV. SALE PRICES                                       365

  XV. CONCLUSION                                        373

INDEX--OLD LACE                                         381

       NEEDLEWORK                                       384


MARY SIDNEY, COUNTESS OF PEMBROKE            _Frontispiece_

OLD LACE                                               PAGE

EGYPTIAN CUT AND DRAWN WORK                              20

OLD ITALIAN "CUTWORKE"                                   20

EARLY ENGLISH SAMPLERS                                   23

ORIGINAL PATTERNS BY VINCIOLA                            27


CHART OF NEEDLEPOINT RÉSEAUX                             36

CHART OF PILLOW RÉSEAUX                                  39

VENETIAN ROSE POINT                                      43

VENETIAN ROSE POINT COLLAR                               48

EXAMPLES OF FLAT VENETIAN POINT                          51


EXAMPLE OF GROS POINT DE VENICE                          55


GENOESE COLLAR LACE                                      63

MILANESE LACE                                            67


"POINT DE FRANCE"                                        75

POINT D'ALENÇON                                          76

"POINT DE FRANCE" AND D'ARGENTELLA                       79


VALENCIENNES                                             88

"LILLE"                                                  91


POINT D'ANGLETERRE                                      102

POINT D'ANGLETERRE LAPPET                               105

BRUSSELS LACE                                           109

BRUSSELS LAPPET                                         113


MARIE ANTOINETTE                                        122

MECHLIN LAPPET                                          125


"DUCHESSE" LACE                                         135



RETICELLA FALLING COLLAR                                149

COLLAR OF GROS POINT                                    153


OLD HONITON LACE                                        163

MODERN HONITON LACE                                     167

LIMERICK "FILLINGS"                                     173

CARRICK-MA-CROSS LACE                                   177

RETICELLA WITH GENOA BORDERS                            182

POINT D'ANGLETERRE                                      185

ITALIAN ECCLESIASTICAL LACE                             189

BRUSSELS LAPPET                                         193

"POINT DE GAZE"                                         197


EGYPTIAN EMBROIDERY                                     208

BAYEUX TAPESTRY                                         211

KING HAROLD FROM BAYEUX TAPESTRY                        215

FRAGMENT FROM THE "JESSE" COPE                          221

THE "SYON" COPE                                         225

THE STEEPLE ASTON ALTAR FRONTAL                         232

THE "NEVIL" ALTAR FRONTAL                               235

DIAGRAM SHOWING USE OF VESTMENTS                        239

SET OF ECCLESIASTICAL VESTMENTS                         243

EARLY "PETIT POINT" PICTURE                             256

EARLY "PETIT POINT" PICTURE                             259

STUART GLOVE                                            263

STUART MIRROR FRAME                                     271

STUART BOOK COVER                                       278

QUEEN ELIZABETH'S POCKET-BOOK                           281

"BLACK WORK" CAP                                        285


STUMP-WORK PICTURE                                      297


A SEVENTEENTH CENTURY "SAMPLER"                         309

EARLY ENGLISH "SAMPLER"                                 313

JACOBEAN HANGINGS                                       319


QUEEN ANNE PICTURE                                      327

EARLY GEORGIAN PICTURE                                  334

"THE LAST SUPPER"                                       337


BLACK SILK AND HAIR PICTURE                             345

A "GAINSBOROUGH" PICTURE                                361




Found in a tomb in Thebes.]

[Illustration: OLD ITALIAN "CUTWORKE."

(_Author's Collection._)]




     Early vestiges in Egypt--Lace found in St. Cuthbert's Tomb (685
     A.D.)--Drawn Thread and Cutworks--Venetian Lace--Flanders
     Lace--French Laces--English Lace.

In every other art or craft we can search the history of ages and find
some vestiges or beginnings among the earlier civilisations. Possibly
owing to the exquisite fragility of Lace, there is a complete absence of
data earlier than that of Egypt. The astonishing perfection in art
handicrafts of all descriptions which we find in China many hundreds of
years before the Christian era shows no vestiges of a manufacture of
lace; but, in the tombs of ancient Egypt, garments have been discovered
with the edges frayed and twisted into what we may call a primitive
lace, and in some of the Coptic embroideries threads have been drawn out
at intervals and replaced with those of coloured wools, making an
uncouth but striking design. Netting must have been understood, as many
of the mummies found at Thebes and elsewhere are discovered wearing a
net to hold or bind the hair; and also, a fine network, interspersed
with beads, is often discovered laid over the breast, sometimes having
delightful little blue porcelain deities strung amongst their meshes.

These early vestiges, however, are in no way representative of the later
exquisite fabrics which we now know and recognise as Lace. Far nearer to
them, as an art, are the early gold and silver laces of simple design
found amongst the tombs of Mycenæ and Etruria, and those of a later
date--_i.e._, the laces of gold used to decorate the vestments of the
clergy, and the simple but sumptuous gowns of the Middle Ages. Along
with the stole and maniple of St. Cuthbert, which are now at Durham
Cathedral, was found a piece of detached gold lace, which must have
formed a separate trimming. St. Cuthbert died in 685 A.D., and was
buried at Lindisfarne, his body being afterwards transferred to Durham
to save it from the desecration of the Danes who were ravaging the land.
Over the body was a cloth, or sheet, which was worked in cutworks and
fringes, showing that even at so early a date initial efforts at
lace-making had been attempted.


(_S.K.M. Collection._)]

As far as we can gather, the earliest endeavour at lace-making
originated with the drawing of threads in linen fabrics, then dividing
the existing threads into strands, and working over them, in various
fanciful designs, either with a buttonhole stitch or simply a wrapping
stitch. Exactly this method is used at the present day, and is known
as hem-stitching and fine-drawing. A later development suggested,
apparently, cutting away of some of the threads, their place being
supplied with others placed angularly or in circles. Many delightful
examples of the work are to be seen in our Old English samplers of the
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and even so recently as thirty
years ago specimens of this primitive and early lace-making were to be
seen in the quaint "smock-frock" of the English farm labourer, a garment
which, though discarded by the wearer in favour of the shoddy products
of the Wakefield looms, is now deemed worthy of a place in the
collector's museum.

It required little effort of fancy and skill, by the simple process of
evolution and survival of the fittest, to expand this plan of cutting
away threads and replacing them with others to doing away _entirely_
with existing and attached threads, and supplying the whole with a
pattern of threads laid down on some geometric fashion on a backing of
parchment, _working over_ and _connecting_ the patterns together, and
afterwards liberating the entire work from the parchment, thereby making
what was known at the time as "punto in aria," or working with the
needle-point in the air, literally "_out of nothing_."

Strange as this may appear, this was the origin, in the fifteenth
century, of the whole wonderful fabric which afterwards became known as
"Point lace," which altered and even revolutionised dress, made life
itself beautiful, and supplied the women of Europe with a livelihood
gained in an easy, artistic, and delightful manner. It also, however,
led to ruinous expenditure in every country, at times requiring special
edicts to restrain its extravagance, and even the revival of the old
Sumptuary laws to repress it.

The earliest known lace, and by far the most popular with all classes,
was "Reticella," which was the first kind evolved on the "punto in aria"
principle. Until the discovery of an easy and simple way of decorating
the linen ruffs and cuffs of the period these had been quite plain, as
many contemporary portraits show. Afterwards the fashion of trimming
garments of all descriptions with the pointed wiry edges of Venice
became a mania, and led to imitation in almost every country of Europe.
The convents turned out an immense quantity, thereby adding enormously
to the incomes of their establishments. It is assumed that it is to the
nuns of Italy we owe the succeeding elaboration of Reticella,
"Needlepoint," the long, placid hours spent in the quiet convent
gardens, lending themselves to the refinement and delicacy which this
exquisite fabric made necessary. However this may be, it is certain that
in a few years the rise and development of Needlepoint lace-making was
little short of phenomenal, and every convent was busy making it and
teaching their poorer lay sisters the art. Some of the wonderful Old
Point of this period is absolutely finer than the naked eye can see, a
powerful magnifying glass being necessary to discern how the marvellous
"toile" or "gimpe" is made.


Seventeenth Century.]

A little later, but still contemporary with the introduction of Venetian
lace, a Pillow lace was being made in Flanders, the origin of which
is not as yet discovered. It is possible that the fine flax thread grown
and manufactured there may, at the time of weaving, have suggested a
looser and more ornamental material, but that remains a matter of
conjecture. There must, however, have been an interchange of examples,
as about this time Pillow-made lace appeared in Italy, and led to the
making of the Milanese and Genoese varieties, and Needlepoint motifs
appeared amongst the woven network of Flanders.

Lace, under the name of "Lacis," had been known in France from the time
of Catherine de Medici, who patronised the manufacturers and used it
lavishly. About 1585 she induced Federico di Vinciolo, a lace-maker and
designer of Venice, to settle in France, and there the making of
Venetian lace was attempted. A mere slavish imitation of the Venetian
school resulted, and it was not until the age of the _Grande Monarque_,
Louis XIV., that French lace rivalled that of Venice.

Colbert, the great French Minister, becoming alarmed at the enormous
sums spent on Italian lace, determined to put a check to its
importation; and, by forbidding its use, establishing lace schools near
Alençon, and bribing Italian workers to come over as organisers and
teachers, started the manufacture of lace on an extensive scale, the
beautiful fabrics known as Point d'Alençon, Point d'Argentan, and Point
d'Argentella being the result. It is frequently said that the last-named
lace came from Genoa or Milan, but most of the present-day authorities
agree that this is one of the many fairy tales with which the passing of
time has adorned the history of lace.

The persecution of the Protestants when the Huguenots fled to England,
bringing with them their arts of silk-weaving and lace-making, led to
the introduction of English lace. Devonshire apparently received a
contingent of laceworkers quite distinct from those who settled in
Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire, and from the first stages showed far
finer methods and designs. With the exception of "Old Honiton," England
cannot boast of anything very fine, and even this is merely a
meaningless meandering of woven tape-like design for the greater part.
The lace of Buckinghamshire ranks, perhaps, lowest in the scale of lace
products, its only merit being its extreme durability.

The laces of Ireland are of comparatively recent growth, and though in
many instances exquisitely fine, do not as yet show much originality.





No. 1.--Brussels.
No. 2.--Alençon.
No. 3.--Argentan.
No. 4.--Argentella.]



     Needlepoint--Pillow Laces--Charts of various Réseaux--Technical

Lace-making naturally falls into two classes--the Needlepoint and Pillow
varieties. In some laces, more especially of the Belgian class, there is
a _mixed_ lace, the "toile" or pattern, being worked with the needle,
and the ground, or "réseau," made round it on the pillow and _vice

To the first-named class we must assign the Needlepoint laces of Italy
and the exquisite handmade laces of France. To the latter order belong
the early Macramé lace, called "Punto a Groppo"; the Genoese and
Milanese laces of Italy; Mechlin and Brussels of Belgium; Valenciennes,
Lille, and Chantilly of France; and the English laces of Honiton,
Buckinghamshire, and Bedfordshire.

Pillow lace may be easily distinguished from Point lace, as in the
former the ground, or réseau, is made of plaited threads. That of Point
lace is composed of threads made by the use of the buttonhole stitch
only, or, in the case of Alençon point, the mesh is worked in a special
manner. The later laces, _i.e._, those made during the last hundred
years, have frequently a ground of machine lace, and thus, strictly
speaking, are not lace at all, but only embroideries or appliqués. The
machine-made ground can be distinguished by sense of touch alone. If we
take a piece of hand-made net between the finger and thumb and slightly
roll it, it will gather in a soft little roll, with the touch almost of
floss silk. The machine-made net is hard, stiff, and wiry, and remains
perceptibly so in this test. Also, the mesh of machine-made lace is as
regular as though made with a fine machine fret-saw, that of hand-made
lace being of varying sizes, and often following the pattern of the lace

The accompanying diagram illustrates the various grounds, and will
prove an infallible guide in distinguishing the points of difference
between Point and Pillow lace.

Various special and technical terms are used in describing the method of
making lace. Without burdening the reader too much, a few special terms
must be explained.

_Brides_ (literally "bridges").--These are the connections between the
various parts of a lace design, both in Needle-point and Bobbin lace. In
the former, they are made entirely of a strand or two of thread thrown
across, and then buttonholed over, sometimes with tiny loops on the
edges, and in Venetian lace often having minute stars worked upon them.

[Illustration: PILLOW RÉSEAUX.

No. 1.--Valenciennes.
No. 2.--Brussels.
No. 3.--Lille.
No. 4.--Mechlin.]

_Beading._--A tiny looped edge used to finish woven or Pillow-made lace.

_Bobbins._--One of the essential parts of a Pillow worker's outfit.
These are small, elongated bobbins made of ivory, bone, or wood, on
which is wound the lace-maker's thread. Sometimes they have been made
very ornamental with carving and other decorations, and frequently have
"gingles," or a bunch of coloured beads attached to one end. The terms
"Bobbin lace" and "Bone lace" are derived from these and are synonymous
with "Pillow lace."

_Cordonnet._--In most _Point_ laces the design is outlined with a raised
_cord_ either worked over closely with buttonhole stitches, or made
separately and then stitched down. The Cordonnet is one of the
characteristic features of the raised Venetian points and the French
laces of Alençon or Argentan.

_Couronnes._--These are decorations of the Cordonnet especially
noticeable in the raised Venetian laces, in which sometimes the lace is
raised and worked upon no less than four separate times.

_Dentelé._--Lace designed in scallop-form, chiefly used for border

_Fillings._--This word most easily explains the ordinary terms of
"modes" and "à jours." The inner parts of the pattern in Needlepoint and
Pillow lace are filled in with various ornamental stitches, showing an
amazing variety of design. By these fillings various laces may often be
distinguished, as each factory had its favourite "modes."

_Grounds._--There are two varieties of grounds, one made with Brides,
and the other either with Needlepoint or Pillow network. Other names
for these are "Réseaux" and "Fonds." The method of making Needlepoint or
woven ground often decides the date and class of the lace.

_Guipure._--Literally a _tape lace_. The name however is applied to all
Pillow laces having a tape-like design on them.

_Picots._--The little loops used to ornament a plain bride or tie.


(_S.K.M. Collection._)]




Seventeenth Century. (_Author's Collection._)]



_The Venetian Laces_

     Venetian lace--"Rose Point"--"Point de Neige"--"Gros
     Point"--"Punto Tagliato a Foliami"--The South Kensington

Needlepoint lace is made with needle and thread and principally in
buttonhole stitches. A traced parchment pattern is procured, the outline
made with a solitary thread stitched down to the parchment at frequent
intervals. The thread is then worked over with fine buttonhole stitches;
the modes or fillings have a fine network of threads stretched across,
afterwards being buttonholed into a variety of designs. The edges are
then again worked upon with loops or picots, and in "Rose Point" tiny
stars or roses are worked on suitable parts of the design, sometimes the
"roses" or "stars" being three in numbers, one poised upon the other.
This is known as "Point de Neige" the whole surface of the lace being
literally sprinkled with tiny stars somewhat representing a fine
snowfall. The design is then connected with fine "brides," these in
their turn being dotted and purled with stars and loops. Most of this
exquisite lace requires a powerful magnifying-glass to discern the
intricacy of the work.

The finest lace of this variety was produced in the sixteenth century,
the designs being bold, handsome, and purely Renaissance in type. That
of the Louis Quatorze period shows the personal influence of his reign,
frequently having tiny figures worked in the design. A collar in my
possession has the Indian worshipping the sun (the King's glory was said
to rival that of the sun) repeated in each scallop. This was a favourite
design in the magnificent "Point de France" which was made during the
long reign of Louis, under the management of Colbert.

It is absolutely certain that the laces known as Venetian Point
originated in Italy. Pattern books still exist showing how the early
Reticella developed into this magnificent lace. In the National Library
at the South Kensington Museum, may be seen the very patterns designed
by Vinciolo, Vicellio, and Isabella Parasole. These publications
actually came from Venice, and being reproduced in France, Germany,
Belgium, and England, quickly aroused immense enthusiasm, and
lace-making spread far and wide, at first all other laces being mere
imitations of the Venetian.



(_Author's Collection._)]


The chief varieties of the Venetian laces are known as Rose Point, Point
de Neige, Gros Point de Venise (often erroneously attributed to Spain
and called Spanish Point), and Point Plat de Venise. A much rarer
variety is "Venetian point à réseau," which is the flat point worked
round with a Needlepoint ground or mesh, the network following no proper
order but being simply worked round the pattern and following its

The chief characteristics of Venetian lace are the buttonhole Cordonnet,
fine or thick according to the style of lace; the wonderful diversities
of the fillings worked in buttonhole stitches; the elaborate decoration
of the Cordonnet; and the starry effects of the brides or ties. In the
flat Venetian Point there is no Cordonnet.

These Italian laces were admired and purchased by all the European
countries, and the cities of Venice and Florence made enormous fortunes.
The fashions of the day led to their extensive use, Marie de Medicis
introducing the Medici collar trimmed with Venetian points specially to
display them. At a little later period the collar became more falling
and the heavier "Gros point" was used. Men and women alike wore
lace-trimmed garments to an excessive degree, the collar and cuff
trimmings being composed of wide Venetian lace and the silken scarf worn
across the body being edged with narrower and finer lace.

The principal designs for the Venetian lace of all periods were scrolls
of flowers conventionalised in the Renaissance taste of the time. The
generic name for all laces of the finest period is "Punto tagliato a
foliami." The laces of this time are now almost priceless. They are
genuine works of art, worked slowly and patiently under the clear light
of the Italian skies by women who were naturally artistic and beauty
loving, and who, while working the shining needle and fairy thread in
and out of the intricacies of the design sang the pretty "Lace Songs"
which may be heard at the Burano Lace School even now, although 200 or
300 years old. Many specimens of this exquisite lace are to be found in
the South Kensington Museum, where the flounce given by Mrs. Bolckow at
once explains the whole scheme of Venetian lace-making.

Such lace is not to be purchased now except at great price. The piece
illustrated, see page 55, was only 1-1/8 yards in length, and was sold
for £145 by one of our leading lacemen. Barely 5 yards of Venetian lace,
only 2 inches wide and _in rags_, was sold at Debenham & Storr's in
August, 1907, for £60; and even the smallest collar or a pair of cuffs
runs well into £10.

Even in the days of its manufacture this lace commanded high prices. In
the inventory of Queen Elizabeth's gowns we find such entries as--

"To 1 yard Double Italian Cut-worke, 1/4 yd. wide. 55/4.

  " 3 yds. broad needlework lace of Italy, with purls. 50/- per yd."

James II. paid £29 for a cravat.







     Argentella wrongly called Italian--Genoese--Mixed

These are mostly Pillow laces, but fine Point laces were also
manufactured in these towns. In the first-named town it is said that the
lace called "Argentella" was made, but this is extremely doubtful, most
authorities arguing that it was certainly a French lace made at the best

A very representative lace of Genoa is known as collar lace, very widely
used for the falling collars of the Vandyke period. It was an
exceedingly beautiful and decorative lace, and almost indestructible.
Specimens of this lace can even now easily be secured at a fair price.
The laces known as "Pillow Guipure" are somewhat open to question, the
authorities at South Kensington Museum agreeing to differ, and labelling
most of the specimens "Italian or Flemish." The finer pieces of this
type of lace may safely be described as "Flemish," as the flax-thread
grown and made in Flanders was much finer than that grown in the
Southern Countries.

Much of the Genoa lace was worked in what we term "mixed lace," the
design being woven on the pillow, and the ground and fillings worked in
with the needle either in a network or by brides and picots. A much
inferior kind is made with a woven braid or tape, the turns of the
pattern being made in twisted or puckered braid, much after the style of
the handmade Point lace made in England some thirty years ago. This lace
was known as "Mezzo Punto," though the French were discourteous enough
to term it "Point de Canaille," as undoubtedly it was an imitation of
the finer laces made in a loose, poor style.

The lace of Milan is unquestionably the most beautiful of the Pillow
laces of Italy. While resembling the plaited lace of Genoa, there is
more individuality about it. Much of this fine lace was worked for
church vestments and altar cloths. Various heraldic devices are
frequently introduced, surrounded with elegant scroll designs, the whole
being filled up with woven réseau, the lines of which are by no means
regular, but are made to fill in the interstices.

Yet another Italian lace is known as

_Punto a Groppo, or Macramé_.

No doubt this was the earliest form of woven lace, and, indeed, it may
claim an origin as early as the first garments worn by mankind. In the
earliest remains of antiquity a _fringe_ often decorates the edges of
garments, curtains, and floor-covering, and seems to be a natural and
fitting finish to what would otherwise be a hard, straight line. In
the various Assyrian and Egyptian monuments this is noted again and

[Illustration: GENOESE LACE.

Sixteenth or Seventeenth Century.

(_S.K.M. Collection._)]

Some of the sixteenth-century pieces which we possess show simply an
elaboration of the knotted fringe, while much of the later work is
exceptionally fine. The work is so well known, owing to its revival
during the last thirty years in a coarse form, that it needs little
description. Its use, even at its best period, was confined to household
use, for which purpose it seems particularly adapted.

[Illustration: MILANESE LACE.

(_Author's Collection._)]



[Illustration: "CUT-WORKE."]

[Illustration: LACIS.]


(_Author's Collection._)]



_The Needlepoint Laces of France_

     Catherine de Medici's collection of "Lacis"--Establishment of
     lace-making by Colbert--"Point de France"--"Point
     d'Alençon"--"Point d'Argentan"--Modern reproduction of these at
     Burano, Italy.

France in the sixteenth century, as always, led the van of fashion. Lace
appears to have been extensively used long before its apotheosis at the
Court of Louis le Grand, otherwise Louis XIV. Catherine de Medici
patronised the manufacture of "_Lacis_," which was merely darned
netting, more or less fine. At this time "Lacis" and "Cut-worke" were
practically all that was known or used. Bed-hangings, curtains, and
furniture-coverings were covered with alternate squares of lacis and
cutwork. Afterwards the Reticella laces of Italy were imported and had
an immense vogue, but it was not until the artistically glorious time of
Louis XIV. that an attempt was made to encourage a manufacture of French

Colbert, the astute Minister of Louis XIV., became alarmed at the
immense sums of money which went out of the country to purchase the
laces of Venice, and, by means of bribing the best workers of the
Venetian schools, he induced them to settle at L'Onray, near Alençon. In
1665 he had so far succeeded that lace rivalling that of Venice was
being produced. The Venetians became alarmed in their turn (as, indeed,
they had need to be) and issued an edict, ordering the lace-workers to
return forthwith, or, failing this, the nearest relative would be
imprisoned for life, and steps would be taken to have the truant
lace-worker _killed_. If, however, he or she returned, complete
forgiveness would be extended, and work found them _for life_ at
handsome remuneration. History does not tell us the result of this
decree, but it evidently failed to destroy the lace manufacture of

At first the lace manufactured at Alençon received the name of "Point de
France," and was absolutely indistinguishable from that of Venice. Its
magnificence of design, indeed, may be said to have exceeded anything
before attempted. The introduction of tiny figures was attributable to
the overwhelming personality of Louis XIV., and was symbolical of his
magnificent sway and far-reaching influence. In the illustration, page
55, an especially fine specimen of the lace, Madame de Montespan is seen
seated under the crown, two small Indians are on either side; a tree
bearing flags and trophies completes this tribute to the genius of the
lace-makers and the splendour of the Court.

[Illustration: "POINT DE FRANCE."

(_The property of Lady Kenmare._)]

[Illustration: POINT D'ALENÇON.

(_Author's Collection._)]

The name "Point de France" is given to all lace made from its
commencement by Colbert's direction until about 1678, when the
lace-workers, perhaps forgetting the traditions of the Venetian school,
developed a style of their own and the work became more distinctly
French, being more delicate, finer in substance, the patterns clearer
and more defined. The importation also of the finer flax thread from
Flanders brought the more exquisite Pillow lace of Brussels to the
notice of the French lace-workers. The French, as a nation, have always
been foremost in seizing upon new ideas and adapting them to their own
artistic requirements. In this instance the result was admirable, and it
gave to the world, not the finest lace, as it was impossible to surpass
the earliest Venetian Point laces, but certainly the next lace in order
of merit, "Point d'Alençon." The chief characteristic of the lace is the
fine, clear ground, the stiff Cordonnet outlining the pattern, and the
exquisite patterns in the "jours" or fillings.

The cordonnet of Alençon is the only one which has horsehair for its
foundation. A strand of hair is carefully stitched down to the edges and
is buttonholed over with the finest thread, and is said, although giving
the lace quite a character of its own, to have been the cause of much of
its destruction, as, in washing, the hair contracts and curls. It will
be noticed also that the ground is worked in strips, _shortways of the
lace of less than an inch in length_, afterwards being stitched together
in what is known as "fine joining." So elaborate was the original Point
d'Alençon that no less than eighteen workers were engaged on one single
piece. Later the number was reduced to twelve, when the patterns became
less ornate.

Although the factory of Alençon existed well into the early nineteenth
century, the style of lace gradually deteriorated, until it is now
non-existent! The lace made during the long reign of Louis XIV. is
considered by far the finest and best, showing both grandeur of style
and pattern and exquisite workmanship. Under Louis XV. the lace was
equally well made, but the patterns followed the Rococo designs which
were now introduced into all other decorative work, while in the reign
of the ill-fated Louis XVI. it went completely out of fashion, Marie
Antoinette affecting a much simpler style of lace. The Revolution
finally caused the complete overthrow of Alençon lace, as of all fine
art work in France. An attempt was made by Napoleon I. to revive it, but
its glories had passed, and the hands of the workers had lost their
cunning, the result being known as the worst type of lace, stiff and
ugly in design and coarse of execution.

"_Point d'Argentan._"

This lace is practically the same as Alençon with a variation of ground,
which, to the uninitiated, appears coarse. A magnifying glass, however,
will speedily dispel this illusion. The ground in itself is a marvellous
piece of work, each of the sides of the mesh being covered with ten
buttonhole stitches. Very frequently a mixed lace of Alençon and
Argentan is found, the result being very fine.

[Illustration: "POINT DE FRANCE."

(_Author's Collection._)]

[Illustration: POINT D'ARGENTELLA.]

_Point d'Argentella._

About this lace most authorities dispute, some stoutly advocating its
claims to be French lace entirely and others averring that it was made
_in imitation_ of the Point d'Alençon by the Genoese. Be this as it may,
the lace known as Point d'Argentella is exceptionally fine even amongst
other fine laces, and is noted most specially for the fine "jours" which
form an essential part of the pattern, every effort apparently being
made to give extra scope for their employment. The specimen illustrated
shows some of these "jours" having the characteristic mayflower,
lozenge, and dotted patterns.

Much modern lace of this type is now made at Burano, Italy, where the
coarse Italian lace formerly made there has been entirely superseded. It
strongly imitates Alençon and Argentan lace, but is without the raised
cord which is so typical of these, having the pattern outlined with flat
buttonhole stitches only. By many connoisseurs this is considered the
finest lace of this age, being far superior to modern Brussels. It is
entirely handmade, which cannot be, unfortunately, averred for Brussels,
as the fine machine-made net, woven from the exquisitely fine thread
manufactured in Flanders and Belgium, serves as the ground for all
Brussels lace made at the present time, except when special orders like
Royal trousseaux are in hand. The lace-makers of Burano, it may be
added, imitate the finest Venetian Rose Point, Point de Gaze, Alençon,
ever produced, the prices comparing very favourably with the old work,
though still very costly.


(_S.K.M. Collection._)]


(_S.K.M. Collection._)]




(_S.K.M. Collection._)]

[Illustration: OLD VALENCIENNES.

(_Author's Collection._)]



     Valenciennes, "Vraie" and "Fausse"--Lille--Chantilly--
     Blonde--Caen and Brittany.


Valenciennes was formerly part of Flanders, being in the province of
Hainault. It became a French town in 1668 by treaty. Being a Flemish
town, the lace made there was purely Pillow lace, and in fineness of
thread and beauty of design it rivalled in its early stages some of the
fine old Flemish laces, which are more like ornamental cambric than
anything else.

There are two kinds of Valenciennes lace, known as "Vraie" and "Fausse."
These names are very misleading, as they merely denote the laces made in
the town itself, or in the outskirts.

Early Valenciennes can only be distinguished from Flemish laces of the
same age by the difference in the _ground_. By reference to the little
chart of lace stitches the distinction will easily be seen, the
Valenciennes being much closer and thicker in the plait, and having
four threads on each side of its diamond-shaped mesh. Conventional
scrolls and flowers were used as designs for the toile, the ground and
the pattern being made at the same time.

This lace is said to have been worked, like that of Brussels, in dark,
damp cellars, the moist atmosphere being necessary to prevent the tiny
thread breaking. The lace-workers became nearly blind, and quite
useless, long before they reached thirty years of age.

So expensive was the fabric that a pair of ruffles for a gentleman's
coat would sell for 4,000 livres. Madame du Barri made extravagant use
of this lovely lace. In her wardrobe accounts are mentioned, in 1771,
head-dress, throatlets, fichus, and ruffles, "all plissé de Vraie
Valenciennes." The amount of lace used for a head-dress alone is said to
have cost 2,400 livres.

The "Vraie Valenciennes" was practically indestructible, earning the
nickname of the "Eternal Valenciennes" from its durability. The
well-to-do bourgeoise used to invest her savings in real lace,
treasuring and wearing it on all best occasions for a lifetime.

The lace-makers of the town itself were so satisfied with their own lace
that they proudly boasted that if a length commenced in the town of
Valenciennes were taken and completed _by the same worker, and with the
same thread_, outside their own damp atmosphere, the exact point of
difference would be shown in the piece.

[Illustration: "OLD LILLE."

(_Author's Collection._)]

The earliest Valenciennes laces show a closer design than that made
later, which, by the way, many connoisseurs much prefer. The latter type
is of clearer ground and more open design. The flowers do not follow the
large scroll-like pattern of Flanders, but suggest the detached sprays
and festoons of Alençon and Argentan. In both types there is no cord
outlining either pattern or edge. All is flat as a piece of fine lawn.


By no means a _favourite_ lace at any time, Lille ranks next in merit as
a hand-made lace. The mesh is clearer and larger than most French or
Belgian laces, being made by the simple twisting of two threads on four
sides. The patterns are simple, and are outlined with a loose flax
thread of silky appearance. The straight edges which characterise Old
Lille lace certainly did not lend elegance to it. A large manufacture in
black lace was commenced, and the black silk mantles of the eighteenth
century were lavishly trimmed with it. It is entirely out of favour at
this day, however, only the finest white variety being sought after.

Lace is still manufactured at Lille, but the patterns of Mechlin are
copied, although the tiny square dots, one of the distinguishing points
of old Lille, are still used.


The white laces of Chantilly much resemble Lille, having the same fine,
clear ground and a thick, silky-looking thread outlining the pattern. A
little lace school was established by the Duchesse de Rohan early in
the seventeenth century, and for quite a hundred years white laces were
made, and became popular. Marie Antoinette used this pretty lace as well
as Valenciennes extensively to trim her favourite lawn dresses and
fichus when she and the ladies of her Court retired to the Petit Trianon
to play at being shepherdesses.

About the middle of the eighteenth century Chantilly began to produce
black silk lace of very fine quality. This is practically the only black
lace for which there is any market. A Chantilly fan or a Chantilly shawl
will always find purchasers. The exquisite fineness of its ground, the
elegance of its floral festoons and bouquets, make it a desirable
possession. With the Revolution the manufacture of real old black
Chantilly ceased, and was only revived with the Empire, when, in
addition to copying the old designs, the manufacture of the famous
_blonde_ laces was commenced.

_French Blonde Lace._

At first these filmy silk laces were made in the natural colour floss
silk imported from China, hence its name "Blonde." Some of the finest
specimens are in this colour. Afterwards, when the art of bleaching the
silk was discovered, it was made in a peculiarly silvery colour, the
loosely woven silk being worked in patterns on what appears a ground of
gossamer. Black Blonde was afterwards manufactured, the lace being very
different to that of nineteenth-century manufacture, the mesh being
large and open. This was a favourite lace with the Spaniards for
mantillas, and much prosperity resulted to the little town of Chantilly.
As with all other laces, the introduction of machinery killed the
industry as an art, and the only Blonde laces now made are by machine,
and are quite inartistic and inelegant. Hand-made Chantilly in black
silk is still manufactured, but it has only a limited output.


(_From a Baxter print._)]

_Other French Laces._

Lace has been made in many smaller towns in France, but in no instance
has it been of sufficient artistic merit to have made a name. Caen
manufactured Blonde lace in imitation of Chantilly. In Normandy the
peasant women and girls in the eighteenth century were specially
diligent, and made praiseworthy imitations of Mechlin, Flemish guipure
laces, and Brussels, and also introduced the working of gold and silver
thread and even beads, which was much used in churches. Some really
exquisite Blonde lace made in this manner was produced at Caen, fine
pearls were used in the place of beads, and this lace became extremely
popular in England. The Empress Eugénie was particularly fond of it, and
in most of the portraits of her at the zenith of her beauty she is seen
wearing decorated Blonde lace. It is said that this lace so soon soiled
and spoiled in the making that only women having specially dry hands
could be employed, and that during the summer months the lace was worked
in the open air, and in the winter in rooms specially built over
cow-houses, so that the animals' breath might just sufficiently warm
the workers in this smokeless atmosphere. Other towns engaged in
lace-making were Havre, Dieppe (the latter town making a lace resembling
Valenciennes), Bayeux, which carried on an extensive trade with the
Southern Islands; Mexico and Spain taking an inferior and heavy Blonde
lace for mantillas.

In Bretagne so dear is lace to the heart of the French peasant woman
that every garment is trimmed with lace, often of her own making; and
along with the provision of a little "dot" for her daughter she makes
pieces of lace for her wedding dress. A curious custom is noted, that
the peasant woman often wears this treasured garment only twice, once
for her wedding and lastly for her funeral!



[Illustration: POINT D'ANGLETERRE.

Period Louis XIV.

(_Author's Collection._)]



     Early Flemish--Brussels lace--Point d'Angleterre--Cost of real
     Flanders flax thread--Popularity of Brussels lace--Point Gaze.

Whether Italy or Flanders first invented both Needlepoint and Pillow
laces will ever remain a moot point. Both countries claim priority, and
both appear to have equal right. Italian Needlepoint without doubt
evolved itself from the old Greek or Reticella laces, that in turn being
a development of "Cutworke" and drawn thread work. Flanders produces her
paintings by early artists in which the portraits are adorned with lace
as early as the fourteenth century. An altar-piece by Quentin Matys,
dated 1495, shows a girl making Pillow lace, and later, in 1581, an old
engraving shows another girl busy with her pillow and bobbins. An early
Flemish poet thus rhapsodises over his countrywomen's handiworks:

    "Of many arts, one surpasses all;
    The threads woven by the strange power of the hand--
    Threads, which the dropping of the spider would in vain
        attempt to imitate,
    And which Pallas herself would confess she had never known."

Whether Flanders imitated the Italian laces or not, it is unquestioned
that every other lace-making country imitated _her_. Germany, Sweden,
France, Russia, and England have, one after the other, adopted her
method to such an extent that, following the tactics of Venice in 1698,
she also issued an edict threatening punishment to all who would entice
her workers away.

So alike are the early laces of Flanders that it is impossible to
distinguish what is known as Flemish Point, Brussels Point, and Point
d'Angleterre. The last-named lace is peculiar, inasmuch as it has a
French appellation, is named "English," and yet is purely Brussels in
character. Two stories gather round this lace, which accounts for its
name. One is that the English Government in the time of Charles II.,
seeing so much money go out of the country, forbade the importation of
Brussels lace. The English lace merchants, not to be done out of their
immense profits, smuggled it over in large quantities, and produced it
as having been made in Devonshire, and sold it under the name of English
Point. Another legend is that when Colbert, in the reign of Louis XIV.,
determined to encourage lace-making in his own country, made prohibitive
the importation of any other lace than France's own manufacture, the
French Court, which had already become enamoured of Brussels lace,
therefore had it smuggled into England and thence to France, as
_English laces_ were at that time too insignificant to come under
Colbert's ban.

[Illustration: POINT D'ANGLETERRE.

Period of Louis XIV.

(_Author's Collection._)]

Whichever tale we choose to believe is of little consequence. It is
sufficient to say that fine Point d'Angleterre is simply Brussels of the
best period when the glorious Renaissance was at its height. It is
absolutely indistinguishable from Brussels of the same period. The
specimen lappet, illustrated, shows the "figure" motif which appears in
"Point de France" and the old "Venetian Point," and which at once dates
its manufacture.

Practically the term Flanders or Flemish lace can be applied to all the
laces made in Flanders and Belgium of the earliest periods. It is
peculiarly fine; the specimen shown is as fine as gossamer, showing a
total absence of Cordonnet, of course, and not even having the loose
thread which marks the stems and leaves of Brussels and Angleterre. The
flax of Flanders was at the time of the great lace industry known and
imported to all the towns engaged in making it. Italy could procure
nothing so fine and eminently suitable to the delicate work she made her
own as this fine thread, grown in Flanders, and spun in dark, damp
rooms, where only a single ray of light was allowed to enter. The thread
was so fine, it is said, that it was imperceptible to the naked eye and
was manipulated by touch only. The cost of this thread was £240 a pound,
and one pound could be made into lace worth £720! Real Flanders lace
thread even now, spun with the help of machinery, costs £70, and is
nothing like so durable as the old threads. When we consider that lace
to be known as "Old Lace" must be two hundred or three hundred years
old, we can understand the strength of this fairy thread, which was like
a spider's web in filminess and yet durable enough to last centuries of
wear, and remain as a lasting memorial of its beauty.


The early Flemish laces cannot be traced to any particular town, but
Brussels early obtained a reputation for the production of the soft,
elegant laces which are variously known as "Real old Brussels," "Point
d'Angleterre," "Point d'Aiguille," and "Point de Gaze." Almost every
woman, although knowing little about lace as an art, knows and easily
recognises "Brussels." It has ever been the most popular lace, partly
because its price has never been actually prohibitive, although always
costly. Choice pieces of Old Brussels, with real ground, rank among the
laces of France and Venice as pieces of price, but the later period,
especially the kind known as Brussels applique, is within everybody's
reach, even if only as a border for a best handkerchief.


(_Author's Collection._)]


Lace made at Brussels at all periods has one characteristic that places
it at once and makes identification easy at a glance. The threads of the
toilé--that is, the pattern--follows the _curves_, instead of, as in
other Flanders laces, being straight _up_ and _down_ and _across_, each
thread being exactly at right angles to the other; Brussels lace also
has a distinctive edge to its pattern. It has no Cordonnet, but a
little set of looped stitches worked along the edge of the design,
afterwards whipped over to keep the edge in place. This is most clearly
seen in every specimen, and, in conjunction with the curved toilé, at
once settles the vexed question of the origin of Point d'Angleterre.

The mesh or ground is, again, quite different to other laces. It has
three varieties of ground--

1. One, mostly used in Point d'Angleterre, being of fine "brides" with
four or five picots, but this ground is also seen in Venetian and French

2. A hand-made ground made of looped buttonhole stitches, which is the
finest and most gossamer-like of all; and

3. A woven ground made on the pillow with plaited thread, very like
Mechlin, but under the magnifying glass having two longer sides to its
hexagonal mesh, and therefore being more open and clear.

The hand, or rather needlepoint, ground was three times more expensive
than the woven, as it was stronger and more lasting. The special value
of the "vrai reseau" in our own day is that it can be imperceptibly
repaired, the broken stitches replaced, whereas in the woven ground the
point of junction must show.

The needle-made net is so fine that one piece in my possession, though
measuring 3/4 yard by 8 inches can easily, in its widest part, be
gathered and passed through a finger ring. At the present day this net
is not made, and even the fine woven ground is not used except for Royal
wedding orders or for exhibition purposes. A magnificent piece
belonging to Messrs. Haywards, of New Bond Street (which cannot be
photographed, unfortunately, as it is between two sheets of glass, and
might fall to pieces if taken out), was made for George IV., and not
delivered, owing no doubt to the usual depleted state of that monarch's
exchequer. Messrs. Haywards (whose courtesy is as boundless as their
reputation) are always pleased to show this and their other splendid
specimen collections to those interested in old lace.

Perhaps no lace is so diversified in style as Brussels. At first it was
purely Flemish, and almost indistinguishable from it. Then the Venetian
influence crept in, and elaboration of pattern and the Renaissance
scrolls and flower work showed itself. At the Louis Quatorze period the
introduction of the "fairy people," seen at its finest and best in Point
de France, marks a time of special beauty. Afterwards the influence of
Alençon was shown (though it never rivalled the exquisite lace of this
factory), and from that time to the present day these designs have
remained for use in its best work.

Some of the choicest specimens of old Brussels are shown in the now
discarded "lappets," which when a lace head-piece and lappets were part
of every gentlewoman's costume, were actually regulated by Sumptuary
Laws as to length. The longer the lappets the higher the rank.

[Illustration: BRUSSELS LAPPET.

Eighteenth Century.

(_S.K.M. Collection._)]

The great Napoleon, while reviving the lace-making of Alençon, specially
admired fine old Brussels, and at the birth of his only son, the little
"King of Rome," ordered a christening garment covered with the
Napoleonic "N's," crowns and cherubs. This was sold in 1903 at
Christie's for £120. At the same sale a Court train realised £140.

In the "Creevy Papers, 1768-1838," mention is made of Lord Charles
Somerset complaining of not having slept all night, "not having had a
minute's peace through sleeping in 'Cambrik sheets,' the Brussels lace
with which the pillows were trimmed tickling his face"! This occurred at
Wynyards, the seat of the Earl of Londonderry.

Queen Anne followed the extravagant fashion of wearing the costliest
laces which William III. and Queen Mary carried to such an excess. In
1710 she paid £151 for 21 yards of fine Brussels edging, and two years
later the account for Brussels and Mechlin laces amounted to £1,418.

In the succeeding reign the ladies of George I.'s period wore lappets
and flounces, caps, tuckers, aprons, stomachers, and handkerchiefs, all
made of Brussels.

In the time of George II. lace was even more worn, but English lace
began to rival Brussels, not in quality, but as a substitute.

George III. and his wife, Queen Charlotte, were economists of the first
order, and personal decoration was rigidly tabooed; hence the almost
total extinction of lace as an article of apparel, while in George IV.'s
time dress had evolved itself into shimmery silks and lawns, lace being
merely a trimming, and the enormous head-dress decorated more frequently
with a band of ribbon.

An exquisite portrait of Louis Philippe's Queen, Marie Amelia, by the
early Victorian painter Winterhalter (whose paintings are again by the
revival of fashion coming into favour) shows this fine old _grande dame_
in black velvet dress covered with three graduated flounces of Brussels
lace, cap and lappets and "tucker" of the same lace, lace fan, and, sad
to relate, a scarf of English machine-made net, worked with English run

Although good Queen Adelaide had a pretty fancy for lace, she wore
little of it, and it was left to Queen Victoria to revive the glory of
wearing Brussels to any extent; and she, alas! was sufficiently
patriotic to encourage home-made products by wearing almost exclusively
Honiton, which I personally am not good Englishwoman enough to admire
except at its latest stage (just the past few years), when lace-making,
as almost every other art work in this country, is emerging from what,
from an artistic point of view, has been one long Slough of Despond.








     Modern Brussels, Point Gaze--Ghent--Duchesse Point--Mechlin
     (the Queen of Laces).

Magnificent laces are still made at Brussels, but almost wholly on a
machine-made ground, the workers and merchants apparently finding the
old hand-made ground unprofitable. The machine-made ground is cheap, and
often of mixed flax and cotton instead of being of purely Flanders flax
thread, as in the old days. Both quality and colour suffer from this
admixture, the lace washing badly and wearing worse.

The most common lace is the Point Applique, in which the sprays, groups,
and borders on the design are made separately by hand on the pillow, and
are afterwards applied by tiny stitchings to the machine-made net. Some
qualities are better than others. In the better class the sprays are
appliqued to the net, which is then cut away and the interstices of the
design filled in with hand-made modes and brides, making a very pretty
and showy lace. The best lace made in Brussels now is

_Point Gaze_,

in which the finest modern lace is produced. Its chief characteristics
are its superb designs, repeating many of the fine Renaissance patterns,
its clear ground, and its use of shading in leaves and flowers, which,
while it adds much to the sumptuous effect, is possibly too
naturalistic. This lace is a mixture of hand and machine lace, the
ground being of the best machine net, the flowers and sprays frequently
needle made, the various fillings being composed of a variety of
designs, and the shading often being produced in the needle-darning as
in modern Ghent and Limerick. Point de Gaze is costly, but it has the
reputation of appearing "worth its money" to which few other laces of
the present day can aspire.

Other lace-making towns in Belgium and Flanders are--


which produces a fine machine-made net, worked and embroidered in exact
imitation of the earliest Limerick lace. So _real_ is this imitation
that a fine flounce of 4 yds. 32 in. wide was sold at a London
auction-room a few months ago, as "real old Limerick," for £60!

Ghent executes vast quantities of hand-made imitations of Valenciennes,
a good and durable lace, but much more expensive than the machine-made
varieties which flood the shops as "real Val."

[Illustration: MECHLIN LAPPET.

Eighteenth Century.

(_S.K.M. Collection._)]

Perhaps the only other lace worth mentioning in smaller and later
varieties is that known as "Duchesse point" or "Bruges," which while
being a showy, decorative, and cheap lace, is anything but satisfactory
either in design, manufacture, or wear. It is largely composed of
cotton, is heavy and cumbrous in design, and after washing becomes thick
and clumsy. It is pillow-made, the flowers being made on the cushion and
afterwards united by coarse and few brides.

Almost equal in favour with old Brussels lace was


which was aptly termed "the Queen of Laces." Old Mechlin was wondrously
fine, and transparent. It is often spoken of as "Point de Malines"
which, of course, is entirely wrong, as it is not Point at all--being
made entirely, all at one time, or in one piece, on the pillow. Much of
the lace known under the general name of Flemish Point is really Malines
or Mechlin, the only difference being the fine silvery thread which runs
all through the designs of real Mechlin. The earliest date of the
manufacture of Mechlin is unknown, but in 1681, it is recorded, that the
people of Malines busied themselves with making a white lace known as
Mechlin. It became a fashionable lace in England in 1699, Queen Mary
using it considerably and Queen Anne buying it largely, in one instance
purchasing 83 yards of it for £247.

It has always remained a favourite lace with English royalties, Queen
Charlotte almost exclusively using it. The other day I discovered in a
bric-à-brac shop about twenty yards of it, old and discoloured, it is
true, which came directly from Queen Caroline, the ill-used wife of
George IV. In the earlier Mechlin, although pillow-made, the
introduction of the "brides with picots," and also the may-flower
patterns of Brussels, helped to make it more decorative. The ground or
réseau was very similar to Brussels hand-made, but the hexagonal mesh is
shorter, as reference to the diagram of réseaux will show.

The exquisite "lightness" of Mechlin, so specially adapted to
"quillings" and "pleatings," accounted for its popularity. It was
specially suitable to the lawns and muslins of the eighteenth century,
but little of this lace is left owing, no doubt, to its great favour
except the ubiquitous "lappets," for which it was no doubt "the Queen of

The immediate cause of its extinction was the introduction of Blonde
laces, and later its final overthrow came from its being the easiest
lace to reproduce by machinery.


From an old fashion plate.]





     Spanish lace; Gold and silver laces of Spain--German
     laces--Russian laces--Maltese silk and thread laces.

Outside the great lace-making countries of Italy, France, and Flanders,
little lace was ever made, and that little of less consequence.

_Spanish Lace._

Much of the old lace known as "Spanish Point" is not Spanish at all, but
the best of Italian Rose Point on a large scale, being the variety known
as Gros Point. It was not extensively used for dress purposes, as
contemporary portraits show, but Spain being such an ultra-Romanist
country, vast quantities of it were imported into Spain for church use.
When Spain fell on unhappy days, in 1830, and the religious houses were
dissolved, this lace was eagerly bought by connoisseurs and collectors
and became known as Spanish Point. It is not unlikely that the Italian
lace was copied by the nuns of the Spanish convents; indeed, at South
Kensington Museum there is a set of church altar lace which is
admittedly Spanish work and is a distinct but far off imitation of
Italian Point.

Spain made gold and silver laces of fine quality and gorgeous design.
Blonde laces in both cream and black are almost indigenous to the soil,
and a particular kind of black Blonde, embroidered with colours,
specially appealed to the colour-loving people.

_German Laces._

Perhaps at the present day more lace is made in Germany than at any
other period. An enormous manufacture of good machine-made lace is
exported yearly, the variety known as Saxony being both popular and

Germany has no national lace, the clever _hausfraus_ caring more to
decorate their table and bed-linen than their persons, and using the
substantial and practical embroideries of the cross-stitch patterns more
than the elegant frailties of lace trimming. Lacis network darned into
patterns has always been popular here, as also in Denmark, Sweden, and

[Illustration: DUCHESSE LACE.



The Russian laces need little more than a passing note. As in Germany,
Lacis and Cutworke form the only hand-made lace known, the people
contenting themselves with these varieties and using coloured threads to
further decorate them. Their laces may be called merely Russian
embroideries. Peter the Great did much to found a lace school, but
only gold laces were made, of a barbaric character. Recently an attempt
has been made to imitate the Venetian laces, with very fair results, but
the character is very stiff and mechanical, going back to the primitive
forms of Reticella rather than the elegancies of Italian Point.

The only other Continental lace requiring note is


a lace made entirely with bobbins and on a pillow. This lace is of
ancient make, being known as early as the old Greek laces, which it
strongly resembles. Its very popularity has killed its use as a fine
lace, and at the present day it is copied as a cheap useful lace in
France, England, Ireland, and even India. The old Maltese lace was made
of the finest flax thread, afterwards a silk variety, which is well
known, being made in cream. Black lace was also manufactured, and at the
time of the popularity of black lace as a dress trimming it was much
used. At the present day the lace is not of the old quality, cotton
being frequently mixed with the flax threads. There is no demand for it,
and it is about the most unsaleable lace of the day.




(_National Portrait Gallery._)]



     Early samplers--Lace worn by Queen Elizabeth; by the early
     Stuarts--Extravagant use of lace in time of Charles
     II.--William and Mary's lace bill.

Even at the risk of being considered utterly unpatriotic, I cannot give
much more than faint praise to the lace-making of England up to the
present date, when notable efforts are at last being made to raise the
poor imitation of the Continental schools to something more in
accordance with artistic conception of what a great National Art might

As in all countries, lace-making apparently commenced in its early
English stages by drawn-thread and cutwork. In many of the charming old
sixteenth-century English samplers just as exquisite cut-work, and its
natural successor Reticella, or "punto in aria" is shown, as in the
finest examples of the Venetian schools. Unfortunately, however, English
fine lace-making came to a sudden and inexplicable end, although we know
that any quantity of fine Venetian, exquisite Brussels, or Flemish
laces, and the wonderful Point de France were being imported into the
country and lavishly used.

As early as the reign of Edward IV. lace was mentioned as being
prohibited for importation amongst other items of feminine luxury, such
as "ribans, fringes of silk and cotton," but it is considered that the
word "laces" here means only the twisted threads that go to make up a
lace or tie, commonly ending in tags or points. It must be allowed,
however, that laces, or more probably "gimps" of gold and silver threads
were used for trimming both lay and ecclesiastical garments, and in
Henry VII.'s reign we find that importation of Venetian lace was
permitted, but this is generally admitted still to refer to gold and
silver lace, more probably coming from Genoa.

It was not really until the time of bluff King Hal that lace became an
article of fashion, when during the life of the last of his unfortunate
queens he permits "the importation of all manner of gold and silver
fringes, or _otherwise_, with all new 'gentillesses' of what facyion or
value, for the pleasure of our dearest wyeff the Queen."

Henry himself also began to indulge in all these little elegances of
fashion, and wore his sleeves embroidered with cutwork, and
handkerchiefs edged with gold and silver, treating himself liberally to
"coverpanes" and "shaving-cloths" trimmed with gold lace.


Early period.]

Little mention of white work was made in the inventories of Henry VIII.
or his Queens, but Cardinal Wolsey seems to have had more than his
share of cutwork embroideries, judging from contemporary portraits.

In Queen Mary's reign white work began to be more frequently spoken of,
and in 1556 it is stated that Lady Jane Seymour presented the Queen with
"a smock of fair white work, Flanders making."

It was not until Queen Elizabeth's time that lace became freely
mentioned; then suddenly we are introduced to an endless variety of lace
and trimmings, both of gold and silver, pearl and embroideries, and
various white work! In some of the old Chronicles mention was made of
drawn work, cut-work, Crown lace, bone lace for ruffs, Spanish chain,
parchment, hollow, and diamond lace. Many of these terms cannot be

The enormous ruffs worn by Queen Elizabeth were introduced into England
in the time of her sister Mary. Portraits both of Philip of Spain and
Queen Mary show ruffs, but not edged with lace. Queen Elizabeth's, on
the contrary, are both edged with lace and, in some instances, covered
with it. On her poor old effigy at Westminster Abbey, where her waxen
image is dressed in her actual garments, the only lace that appears is
on the enormous ruff, three-quarters of a yard wide, covered with a fine
lace of the loose network kind. The rest of her garments are trimmed
with gold and silver lace and _passementerie_.

In the succeeding reign lace of a geometric design shows itself on the
ruffs of the richest people. Pictures in the National Portrait Gallery
show many exquisite examples of the beautiful Reticella of Venice, which
must have been very costly to the purchaser, as twenty-five yards or
more of this fine lace were required to edge a ruff.

It was in the reign of James I. and his consort, Anne of Denmark, that
Flanders lace and the expensive Point laces of Italy first became widely
popular. Then, as now, they were costly--to such an extent that many
gentlemen sold an estate to buy laces for their adornment.

It was during this reign that we first learn of a lace being made in
England, as Queen Anne of Denmark on her journey south purchased lace at
_Winchester_ and _Basing_, but history mentions not what kind of lace it
was. Apparently only a simple kind of edging was used, made on a pillow.

The enormous ruffs went out of fashion with the death of James I.
Charles I., in all his portraits, wears the falling collar edged with
Vandyke lace. It was during this reign that Venetian lace reached its
apotheosis in England. The dress of the day has never been surpassed,
though it became much more elaborate and ostentatious in the time of
Charles II. and William and Mary. Falling collars were specially adapted
to the display of the handsome laces of Venice. The cuffs of the sleeves
were likewise trimmed with the same; scarves were worn across the
breast, trimmed with the narrower Reticella.


(_S.K.M. Collection._)]

During the Commonwealth the laces of Venice suffered a temporary
eclipse, and the plainer laces of Flanders were freely used. Cromwell
himself, it is said, did not disdain the use of it. His effigy at
Westminster was dressed in a fine Holland lace-trimmed shirt, with bands
and cuffs of the same. This effigy, by the way, was destroyed at the

Charles II., who during his exile in France had become imbued with the
extravagant taste of the French Court, gave vast orders for "Points of
Venice and Flanders," on the plea of providing English lace-workers with
better patterns and ideas.

The falling collar certainly went out of fashion, but lace was liberally
used on other parts of the dress. Lace frills of costly Point edged the
knee-breeches, lace cravats were worn and deep falling cuffs. Charles
II., in the last year of his reign, spent £20 for a new cravat for his
brother's birthday.

During James II.'s reign extravagance in lace purchases are still
mentioned, but it surely reached its culmination in the joint reign of
William and Mary, when enormous sums were spent by both King and Queen.
In one year Queen Mary's lace bill amounted to £1,918. New methods of
using lace were fashioned. A huge head-dress called the "Fontange," with
upright standing ends of Venetian Point, double hanging ruffles falling
from elbow sleeves, lace-trimmed aprons, lace tuckers, characterised the
feminine dress of the day, while the "Steinkirk" cravat and falling
cuffs of William III.'s day ran up accounts not much less than that of
his Queen. In 1690 his bill was £1,603, and in 1695 it amounted to

The effigies of William and Mary in the Abbey, wear the very finest
Venetian Point laces. None of the other figures wear such costly lace,
nor in such profusion.


Louis XIV. period.

(_S.K.M. Collection._)]





     Queen Anne and Mechlin--Establishment of lace-making in
     Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire--Buckingham lace--Wiltshire
     lace--Devonshire lace--Modern Honiton revival.

It was in Queen Anne's time that the earliest really good lace
manufactured in England appeared. Driven from France by the edict of
Louis XIV., the refugees found a home in England, and encouraged by
Queen Anne's fondness for laces other than Venetian, they made and
taught the English lace-workers, among whom they settled, the art of
real lace-making, which up to this time had apparently been only half
understood. Numerous lace schools now sprang up, the counties of
Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, and Northampton specially becoming known.
Valenciennes and Mechlin were the varieties of laces principally copied;
a very pretty lace, very reminiscent of Mechlin, being the "Baby lace,"
which received its name from being so much used to trim babies' caps.
Although very much like Valenciennes and Mechlin, the laces were much
coarser both in thread and design than their prototypes. Bedfordshire
and Northamptonshire did not long retain the art of lace-making, but
Buckingham lace remained a staple manufacture, and is much esteemed even
to-day, many connoisseurs considering it far better as a lace than the
somewhat clumsy laces of Devonshire. The specimen shown is a piece of
old Buckingham lace closely copying the réseau and sprigs of Lille which
most lace-lovers consider it excels. The net of Buckinghamshire is an
exact copy of the Lille mesh, being made of two threads twisted in a
diamond pattern, the sprays being worked on the pillow at the same time.
The patterns of the old Buckingham lace are not very varied, the best
known being what is called "Spider lace," a coarse kind of open mesh
being worked in the pattern. The principal town engaged in the
eighteenth century was Newport Pagnel, which was cited as being most
noted for making Bobbin lace. Old Brussels designs were used, and some
quaint lace of early Flemish design, was made. The early English run
lace, which was even so late as fifty years ago very popular, was mostly
made here. Aylesbury, Buckingham, and High Wycombe also made lace, and
in the last-named old town cottage lace-making may be seen to this day.
Very quaint are the old lace bobbins that may be purchased in the
"antique" shops of these lace-making towns. The lace-workers apparently
indulged many a pretty fancy in shaping them in a diversity of ways,
very few bobbins being alike. Some were made of bone, really prettily
turned, with dotted and pierced patterns on them. Others were
silver-studded, and again others were banded in silver. The wooden ones
were always decorated, if possible, each one differently from the
others, so that the worker might distinguish each thread without looking
at it. Nearly every bobbin was ended with a bunch of coloured beads
strung on wire, and a collection of these bobbins, with their "gingles,"
often yields up a pretty and quaint necklace. One in my possession has a
quaint bead made of "ancient Roman glass," worth at least ten shillings.
One wonders how this bit of Roman magnificence had strayed into an
English cottage home!

[Illustration: "OLD BUCKINGHAM."

(_Author's Collection._)]


(_Author's Collection._)]

Buckinghamshire is the only one of the Midland counties which has
produced _wide_ lace; the adjoining counties confined themselves to
edgings at most some 6 inches wide. A flounce in my collection measures
21 inches, and is of very elegant design, and of fine quality. In
Wiltshire lace appears to have been made at an early date in the
eighteenth century, but little lace is left to show its quality. A
curious piece is said to belong to an old family in Dorset, who vouch
for the lace having belonged to Queen Charlotte, the wife of George III.
Like many other traditional "antiques," this is undoubtedly a fairy
story, as it claims to have been made in commemoration of the defeat of
the Spanish Armada, _at contemporary times_. It is exceedingly handsome,
showing one of Philip's ships, very suggestively surrounded by big sea
fish and apparently resting on the rocky bottom of the ocean. In the
next panel Tilbury Fort is portrayed, and another ship, one of England's
glory, proudly rules the waves. The design is undoubtedly English, and
most probably it was made in commemoration of the historic event--but
the lace is Point d'Argentan, and was most likely manufactured specially
for Queen Charlotte.

Lyme Regis at one time rivalled Honiton, the laces of both towns being
equally prized. Queen Charlotte wore a "head and lappets" made here when
she first came to England, and afterwards she ordered a splendid lace
dress to be made. When, however, Queen Victoria, in her wish to
encourage the English makers, sent an order for her marriage lace, not
sufficient workers were found to produce it.


As early as 1614 the lace-makers of Devonshire were known. The influx of
refugees from Flanders in the Midlands and southern counties undoubtedly
established lace-making in both parts of the kingdom. Many of the
Honiton lace-workers married these refugees, and to this day the people
are of mixed descent. Quaint names of Flemish extraction appear over the
shop doors.

In the early days both men, women, and children seem to have pursued the
art of lace-making, boys learning and working at it until the age of
sixteen, when they were either apprenticed to some trade or went to


[Illustration: OLD HONITON.

(_Author's Collection._)]

Most of the old Devonshire laces bear distinct likeness to the fine
Flemish lace, only the clumsiness of the design or the coarse
workmanship differentiating them. It has, however, one special feature
which gave it the name "Trolly lace," as, unlike the perfectly flat lace
of Flanders, it has a coarse thread or "trolly" outlining its patterns,
and being made of English thread, it was coarse and not very durable.


has always easily ranked first amongst our British laces, although by
many not considered equal to fine Bucks. Like the Midland lace, it has
been always made with Flanders thread, and therefore has maintained its
popularity because of its _wear_ and its _colour_. The early Honiton
workers copied "Brussels" lace, but because of their inability to
produce an artistic design it has never been anything but a _poor_ copy.
Even when the Brussels influence was most direct the flowers and sprays
were placed inartistically, while the scroll copies of the early Flemish
schools can only be termed the imitative handiwork of a child.

The most prized specimens of old Honiton are those with hand-made
ground, made of Flanders flax. Very little of this real ground Honiton
lace is left. Queen Victoria did much to make Honiton lace _the_ lace of
the land; but although a regular trade has been established, and much
good work accomplished, Honiton of the past will never be regarded on
the same plane as the laces of Venice, France, and Brussels. Even in its
best variety it lacks the exquisite filmy touch of Brussels, the dainty
grace of Alençon, and the magnificence of Point de France and Venetian
Point. The Honiton laces made since the introduction of machine-made net
is especially poor. Flower sprigs and sprays are made separately on the
pillow, and afterwards applied to the machine-made ground. These are, as
a rule, flowers and foliage treated naturalistically, and are heavy and
close in design. These are often very sparingly applied over a wide
expanse of net in order to make as much lace with as little trouble as
possible. This is very different to the work of the old Honiton
lace-worker, who made every inch of it herself--first the sprays and
scrolls, then worked the ground round it, and received, it is said, from
the middleman (who purchased it for the town market) as many shillings
as would cover the lace offered for sale.

We are glad to say, however, that very praiseworthy efforts are being
made to introduce better methods and more artistic designs in the many
lace schools which are being formed in various parts of Devon. Mrs.
Fowler, of Honiton, one of the oldest lace-makers in this centre, making
exquisite lace, the technique leaving nothing to be desired, and also
showing praiseworthy effort in shaking off the trammels of the
traditional designs.






     Hamilton lace--Mary Queen of Scots--Modern lace-making in
     Ireland--Limerick lace--Carrick-ma-cross--Irish
     crotchet--Convent laces.

Scotch lace can hardly be said to exist. At one time a coarse kind of
network lace called "Hamilton lace" was made, and considerable money was
obtained by it, but it never had a fashion, and deservedly so. Since the
introduction of machinery, however, there has been considerable trade,
and a tambour lace is made for flounces, scarfs, &c. The more artistic
class of work made by Scotswomen is that of embroidering fine muslin,
and some really exquisite work is made by the common people in their

Much mention is often made of Mary Queen of Scots and her embroideries
and laces. It must be remembered that she married firstly the Dauphin of
France, and while at the French Court imbibed the taste for elegant
apparel and costly lace trimmings. There is no record that she ever wore
lace of her own country's manufacture, and, although English writers
often quote the lace made by her fair hands, really the needlework made
by Queen Mary at Fotheringay was embroidery.

_Irish Laces._

The early lace of Ireland was the usual cut and drawn work, and it was
not until the earlier part of the nineteenth century that lace-making
actually became a craft. In the eighteenth century many brave attempts
were made to commence lace schools, and the best work was done in the
convents, where really fine work was executed by the nuns, the patterns
having been sent from Italy. It was not until 1829 that the manufacture
of Limerick lace was first instituted. This really is not lace at all,
as it is merely chain-stitch worked in patterns on machine-made net.

This pretty so-called lace was first made at Limerick by an Oxford man,
who established a school there, taking with him twenty-four girls as
teachers. It quickly became very popular, in the early "fifties" every
woman of either high or low degree possessing herself of at least a lace
collar or fichu of Limerick lace.

In 1855 more than 1,500 workers were employed, but decidedly the best
lace of the manufacture belongs to the time prior to this date. The
quality of the net ground has also deteriorated, or perhaps the best net
has not been purchased.

[Illustration: LIMERICK "FILLINGS."]

Very dainty little sprays and flowers are produced in the fine chain or
tambour stitch, the hearts of the flowers or the centres of the scallops
being worked over in an endless variety of extra stitches, as will be
seen in the illustration.

Another variety of lace is Carrick-ma-cross, which was contemporary with
Limerick. This is merely embroidery again, but has more claim to the
title of lace, as the tiny little flowers and scrolls are connected with
brides made of buttonhole stitch ornamented with picots. This is really
a very handsome lace, its only drawback being that it will not _wash_.
The fine lawn of which it is made is buttonholed round and then cut
away. This, in cleaning or washing, _contracts_ and leaves the
buttonhole edging, and in a few cleanings it is a mass of unmendable

Slightly more serviceable is another variety of Carrick-ma-cross, on
which the lawn is appliquéd to a machine-made net, the pattern outlined
with buttonhole stitches, and the surplus lawn cut away, leaving the
network as a grounding, various pretty stitchings filling up the
necessary spaces.

Yet another kind of lace is made, and is really the only real lace that
Ireland can claim. This is the Irish crotchet, which in its finer
varieties is a close imitation of Venetian Point, but made with fine
thread and with a crotchet needle. Some of the best is really worth
purchasing, but it is costly, realising as much as five guineas per
yard. A very delicate "Tatting" also comes from the Emerald Isle, and in
comparing English and Irish laces one is inevitably struck with the
reflection that there is more "artistry" in the production of Irish
laces and embroidery than in England with all her advantages. The
temperamental differences of the two races are distinctly shown in this,
perhaps more than any other art.

Much really notable work is now being executed in the Irish lace
schools. At Youghal, co. Monaghan, an exact replica of old Venetian
Point is being worked. Various fine specimens from the school occupy a
place at South Kensington Museum, and the lace industry of Ireland may
be said to be in a healthy condition.


(_Author's Collection._)]




(_Author's Collection._)]



     Style--Historical data--Réseaux.

The great difficulty in attempting to identify any specimen of lace is
that from time to time each country experimented in the manners and
styles of other lace-making nations. The early Reticella workers copied
what is known as the "Greek laces," which were found in the islands of
the Grecian Archipelago. Specimens of these laces found in the
excavations of the last thirty years show practically no difference in
method and style. France copied the Venetian laces, and at one period it
is impossible to say whether a given specimen was made at Alençon or
Venice. Italy, in turn, imitated the Flemish laces--to such an extent
that even the authorities at South Kensington Museum, with all their
leisure and opportunities for study and the magnificent specimens at
hand for identification, admit that certain laces are either "Italian or
Flemish." Valenciennes was once a Flemish town, and though now French,
preserves the Flemish character of lace, some specimens of Mechlin
being so like Valenciennes as to baffle certainty.

Later, Brussels borrowed the hand-made grounds of France and Venice, and
still later England copied Brussels, the guipures of Flanders, and the
ground and style of Lille! All this makes the initial stages of the
study of lace almost a hopeless quest. The various expensive volumes on
lace, although splendidly written and gorgeously illustrated, leave the
student with little more than an interesting and historical knowledge on
which to base the actual study of lace. Here I may refer my readers to
the one and only public collection of lace, I believe, in England--that
of the South Kensington Museum, where specimens of lace from all
countries and of all periods are shown, and where many magnificent
bequests, that of Mrs. Bolckow especially, make the actual study of lace
a possibility.

It is to be hoped that the governing body of the museum will, in its own
good time, make this a pleasure instead of a pain. The specimens, the
_most important to the student_, are placed in a low, dark corridor. Not
a glimmer of light can be obtained on some of the cases, which also are
upright, and placed so closely together that on attempting to see the
topmost specimen on one side the unfortunate student literally bangs her
head into the glass of the next one. A gentle complaint at the
Directors' office concerning the difficulty brought forth the
astonishing information that there was no room at their disposal, but
that in good time better light might be found. As these cases have
been in identically the same place for the past fifteen years, one hopes
that the "good time" may come before one becomes a "spectacled
pantaloon" with no desire to see the wonders of that Palace of Art.

[Illustration: POINT D'ANGLETERRE.

Style Louis XV. Eighteenth Century

(_S.K.M. Collection._)]

This little protest is made in the hope that the "Lords of the
Committee" may possibly have their attention drawn to what amongst the
lace-lovers and students in this country is a "standing grievance."

It is almost impossible, even from the best of photographic
illustrations, to learn all the intricacies of identification. The
photographs clearly show style, but it needs specimens of the actual
lace to show method of working. From the illustrations in this book,
specially selected from the South Kensington Collection, and from
specimens in my own collection, every variety of style may be easily
understood, as they have been particularly selected to show each point
of difference. Commencing with the earliest form of lacework--_i.e._,
"cutworke"--nothing will better show this than the "Sampler" specimen,
which, half way down, shows two rows entirely typical of this kind of
early lace-making--for such it is. A little lower, examples of drawn
threadwork are seen, while the upper portion illustrates satin stitch
patterns, which more properly belong to embroidery.

The ancient collar from the South Kensington Collection, page 149, shows
some of the finest developments of cutwork, when the foundation of linen
was entirely dispensed with. The work is exceedingly fine, the threads
being no coarser, indeed in many cases less so, than the fine linen it
adorns. This is known as Reticella, or "punto in aria." The last name
is applicable to all the laces of Venice which succeeded Reticella, and
means lace literally made out of nothing or without any building

The specimen is still of the same class, but where before the design was
simple geometric square and pointed as in all the early lace, it now
takes on the lovely flowing scroll of the Renaissance that marks the
latter half of the seventeenth century.

The same grand styles may be noted all through the great period of
Italian Needlepoint lace. It will be seen in a lesser degree in the
Guipure laces of Milan and Genoa, but here the cramping influence of the
Flemish school shows itself distinctly.



(_S.K.M. Collection._)]

The same bold lines may be noted in the early Needlepoint lace of
France, which had not then become sufficiently sure of her capacity to
develop a style of her own, and all show the Renaissance spirit.
Afterwards when the superb Point de France was at its height of
manufacture along with grand outline and exquisite handicraft, the
influence of the mighty monarch Louis XIV. asserted itself and although
the lace itself commands unbounded admiration, fantastic little notions,
symbolical and naturalistic, showed itself--as an illustration page 75:
little figures representing "the Indian," "canopied crown over a sealed
lady," trees growing all manner of bizarre fruit and flowers, all
symbolical of Louis the Magnificent's unbounded power and sway. In the
South Kensington Museum there is a still finer specimen, which has
not yet been photographed, I believe--a magnificent flounce, about
eighteen inches wide (really two boot top pieces joined), of what is
known as pseudo-Oriental character, which shows amongst the usual
exquisite scrolling no less than seven different figures on each
piece--viz., an Indian, a violinist in dress of Louis XIV. period, a
lady riding on a bird, two other ladies, one with a pet dog and the
other a parrot, a lady violinist, and another lady seated before a
toilet-table. These little figures are not more than three-quarters of
an inch high, but are worked with such minuteness that even the tiny
features are shown. This fantastic adoption of the human figure was
copied in Italy and Flanders. The finest specimens of Point d'Angleterre
(Brussels) show the same designs; and it may broadly be stated that all
lace with figures is of the Louis XIV. period, and over two hundred
years old.

Succeeding this period came the dainty elegance of the French laces,
when the workers of Alençon and Argentan had developed a purely French
style. Note the Point d'Alençon, illustration page 83, where the
characteristics of the period are fully shown. The illustration shows a
mixed lace, which only recently has been acknowledged by the South
Kensington people as Point d'Argentan. Along with the typical Argentan
ground of the upper portion is the fine Alençon mesh and varied jours of
the border. This also is Louis XIV. style. The lappet shown next is
exceedingly instructive, as till quite lately the people who professed
to understand lace agreed to call this Genoese, although it was quite
unlike anything else made there. This lappet was so labelled at South
Kensington, but now is admittedly Argentella (or little Argentan). It is
remarkably like Alençon, being of the same period, the only points of
difference being that the design is not outlined with a raised Cordonnet
(though in different places of the design a raised and purled Cordonnet
is often stitched on it) and the special ground (partridge eye) which is
agreed to denote "Argentella" lace--page 83. It is sometimes called the
may-flower ground, but this is somewhat misleading as that design occurs
in other laces. The only other great style is that of Flanders, which at
its earliest period had received no influence from the Renaissance that
had seized the southern countries of Europe and was still in the grip of
mediæval art. It was not until Italian influence permeated France that
Flemish lace perceptibly altered in character.

These are to all intents and purposes the three great styles of lace.
England had no style: she copied Flemish, Brussels, and Mechlin laces.
Ireland, on the contrary, copied Italian in her Irish crotchet and
Carrick-ma-cross (in style only, but not workmanship), and adapted Lille
and Mechlin and Brussels and Buckingham in her Limerick lace.

The student must next make herself familiar with the methods pursued by
the old lace-workers, and here the difficulty commences. All lace is
either Needlepoint, pillow-made, or machine-made. _Needlepoint_ explains
itself. Every thread of it is made with a needle on a parchment pattern,
and only two stitches are used, buttonhole and a double-loop which is
really a buttonhole stitch.

[Illustration: BRUSSELS LAPPET.

Nineteenth Century.

(_S.K.M. Collection._)]

This can be clearly understood by referring to Charts Nos. I. and II.,
where the _two Brussels grounds_ are shown. The Needlepoint ground, No.
I., is formed by a buttonhole stitch, which loops over again before
taking the next. The pillow-made ground, No. II., shows the threads
plaited or twisted together to form a hexagonal or a diamond-shaped
network. This is all the difference between needle-made and pillow-made
lace, and in itself helps to identify in many instances its country and
period when it was produced. All the early Italian laces were
Needlepoint, and all the early French laces were the same. All the
Flemish laces (including Brussels) were pillow-made, and mixed laces in
any of these countries are of later make. Italy adapted the Flemish
pillow-lace, and produced Genoese and Milanese guipures, in addition to
the coarse imitation of Reticella which she now made by plaiting threads
on the pillow. Brussels adopted the needle-made motifs and grounds of
Italy, and produced perhaps her finest lace, weaving her beautiful
designs and outlines on the pillow, and afterwards filling the spaces
with needle-made jours and brides, as in Point d'Angleterre.

A study of Chart II. will show the different style of grounds or réseaux
of both Needlepoint and pillow-made lace, the buttonhole grounds being
either of "brides" with or without picots, or buttonhole loops, as in
Brussels, and Alençon (with a straight thread whipping across to
strengthen the ground), loops buttonholed over all as in Argentan, or
made of tiny worked hexagons with separate buttonholed threads around
them as in Argentella. The pillow-made grounds are made of two plaited
or twisted threads, except in the case of Valenciennes, when it is made
of four threads throughout (hence its durability). In Brussels, it will
be noted, the threads are twisted twice to commence the mesh. These meet
two other threads, and are plaited four times, dividing into two again,
and performing the same twist, the whole making a hexagon rather longer
than round. Mechlin has precisely the same ground, only that the threads
are plaited _twice_ instead of four times, as in Brussels, making the
hexagon roundish instead of long.

The ground of Lille lace is of exactly the same shape as Valenciennes,
but is composed of two threads twisted loosely twice each side of the
diamond, and that of Valenciennes being made of four threads plaited.

With the aid of these little charts, a remembrance of the various styles
and a few actual specimens of lace, and _a powerful magnifying glass_,
it is not beyond the power of any reader of this little book to become
expert in the identification of old lace.


(_Author's Collection._)]





Lace is such an article of luxury, and, as a rule, only belonging to the
wealthiest class, that it seldom or ever comes into the open market. In
1907 two collections were dispersed at Christie's--those of Mrs.
Massey-Mainwaring and Mrs. Lewis Hill.

The most costly laces are the Venetian Points, some of the fine Rose
Points being priceless. It is so fragile that little of it remains, and
the smallest piece is eagerly snapped up by collectors.

In 1904 at Christie's lace sold for the following prices--

A 58-inch length of 24-ins. deep Point de Venise         600

A 4-yards length of Rose Point, 11 inches deep           420

The same year--

4 yards of Point d'Argentan, 25 inches deep              460

44 inches Point d'Alençon, 17 inches deep                 43

2-1/2 yards Point d'Alençon, 14 inches deep               46

In 1907, March 11, _Massey-Mainwaring Sale_ at Christie's--

                                                    sold for
                                                    £  s.  d.
1-1/2 yards Venetian Gros Point, 8 inches deep     16  16  0

5 yards length of Reticella, 7-1/2 inches
deep                                               33  12  0

4 short lengths                                    42   0  0

7 pieces of Point d'Alençon                        21   0  0

4 yards narrow Point d'Argentan                    15  15  0

3 pairs Point d'Argentan lappets                   15  15  0

30 yards narrow Mechlin in odd lengths             21   0  0

April 15th, the _Lewis-Hill Sale_ at Christie's:--

                                                    sold for
                                                    £  s.  d.
4 yards Venetian Point, 15-1/2 inches deep         68   5  0

4   "      "       "     8-1/2    "     "          52  10  0

3 yards Spanish Point, 6-1/2 inches deep           73  10  0

An Old Brussels scarf in two pieces                10  10  0

6 yards Brussels applique                          23  10  0

A Point Gaze parasol-cover                          6  16  0

A Brussels flounce                                 12   1  6

3 yards Honiton flounce, 17 inches deep            69   6  0

Another similar                                    69   6  0

6 yards Honiton lace in three pieces               24   3  0

An old lace coverlet                               25   4  0

Another ditto                                      26   5  0

A lace altar-frontal                               21   1  0

With the exception of the Honiton flounces, which sold beyond their
market value, all the above pieces were bought by London lace dealers!

The famous collection of the late Mrs. Hailstone was sold in 1909. This
lady had for many years been known as a lace collector, and the sale of
her effects was eagerly anticipated. The result was extremely
interesting to the collectors, as Mrs. Hailstone had collected specimen
lengths of almost every known lace. No huge prices obtained, but the
sale may be regarded as representative, and the prices quoted as being
open-market value.

                                                    £  s.  d.
A set of bed-hangings, forming six curtains,
made of Italian lace and linen                     40   0  0

A large portière curtain of Italian lacis-work     10  10  0

A Point d'Alençon fichu                            30   0  0

"   "       "     cravat end, a pair of sleeves,
one odd piece                                      18   0  0

A pair of Argentan lappets and six yards lace      12   0  0

A panel fine raised Venetian Point, 22 inches
wide, 28 inches long                               24   0  0

A Berthe, Point de Venise, 1 yard 120 inches,
12 inches deep                                     25   0  0

A Point de Venise Berthe                           36   0  0

A 1 yard 13 inches x 7 inches panel Venetian lace  50   0  0

Two specimen pieces, 3-1/4 inches, all of
Point de Venise à réseau                           14  10  0

A Buckinghamshire collar, sleeves, and pieces       5   5  0

A specimen of old Honiton, baby's cap, bodice,
and handkerchief                                    3   5  0

An old Honiton baby's robe, said to have belonged
to Princess Charlotte                              15  10  0

Seven volumes of lace specimens of old and modern
lace                                               35   0  0

In December, 1910, probably the most valuable collection ever placed
upon the market was dispersed at Messrs. Christie's. The late Sir
William Abdy Bt., had for many years devoted his time and money to the
collection of valuable lace, such as now can only be seen in the great
national collections. The prices obtained are significant of the huge
sums which must be paid to obtain wearable pieces of valuable lace such
as skirt lengths, 3- or 4-yard lengths of deep flouncings, shawls,
coverlets, aprons, &c.

                                                    £  s.  d.

A fine Point d'Alençon skirt, 2-1/2 yards,
44 inches deep                                    160  0   0

A fine Point d'Alençon scarf, 2 yards
9 inches × 10 inches deep                          72  0   0

A Point d'Argentan Berthe, 9-1/2 inches deep       39  0   0

A Point d'Argentan flounce, 6 yards 30
inches × 5-1/2 inches deep                        140  0   0

A Point d'Argentan flounce, 2 yards 26
inches long × 25 inches deep                      210  0   0

A Point d'Argentan flounce, 3 yards 28
inches long × 24 inches deep                      310  0   0

A Point d'Argentan flounce, 3 yards 35
inches long × 25 inches deep                      431  0   0

A Point d'Argentan flounce, 3 yards 16
inches long × 24-1/2 inches deep                  290  0   0

An Italian gold and thread lace flounce,
4 yards long, 29 inches deep                      740  0   0

A length of Italian Rose Point, 4 yards
15 inches long, 3 inches deep                      70  0   0

An old Italian Rose Point flounce, 3
yards 31 inches long, 17-1/2 inches deep          660  0   0

An old Italian Rose Point square, 31
inches × 34 inches                                180  0   0

An old Italian Rose Point flounce, 3
yards 19 inches long, 7-1/2 inches deep           520  0   0

An old Italian Rose Point panel, 34
inches × 9 inches                                  95  0   0

A Point de Venise lappet à réseau, 46
inches long, 5-1/4 inches wide                     22  0   0

Point de Venise trimming, 8 yards long
× 4 inches deep                                    65  0   0

A piece of flat Venetian insertion, 4
yards × 3-3/4 inches deep                          92  0   0

A Rose Point flounce, 4 yards long × 5
inches deep                                       200  0   0

A Rose Point flounce, 3 yards 31 inches
long × 22 inches deep                             600  0   0

A Rose Point flounce, 4 yards 7 inches
long × 24 inches deep                             540  0   0

A Rose Point flounce, 3 yards 32 inches
long × 15 inches deep                             560  0   0

A Rose Point flounce, 4 yards 11 inches
long × 18 inches deep, and a pair of
sleeves en suite                                  650  0   0

A Rose Point flounce, 4 yards 3 inches
long × 11-1/2 inches deep                         510  0   0

A raised Point de Venise square, 1 yard
24 inches long × 1 yard 6 inches wide             450  0   0

An Old Brussels apron, 41 inches wide,
37 inches deep                                    145  0   0

A specimen piece of early Valenciennes,
2 yards long × 7 inches deep                       42  0   0

The following prices have been given by the South Kensington authorities
for specimens shown:--

                                                    £  s.  d.

A Venetian Point altar-frontal, 8 × 3 feet        350  0   0

A Venetian chasuble, stole, maniple,
and chalice veil                                  200  0   0

A 2 yards × 5/8 yard Venetian flounce             125  0   0

A Gros Point collar                                21  0   0

A Brussels lappet                                  23  0   0

A drawn-thread jacket                              10 10   0

Linen cutwork tunic                                20  0   0


Found in a tomb at Thebes.]




     Needlework pioneer art--Neolithic remains--Earliest known
     English specimens--Bayeux tapestry.

While the subject of lace-making has been treated as almost
cosmopolitan, that of embroidery, in this volume, must be regarded as
purely national! I purposely refrain from introducing the embroideries
of other countries, other than mentioning the ancient civilisations
which shared the initial attempts to decorate garments, hangings, &c.
(of which we really know very little), and shall confine myself to the
needlework of this country, more especially as it is the one art and
craft of which England may be unfeignedly proud. It is assumed that
needlecraft was the pioneer art of the whole world, that the early
attempts to decorate textiles by embroideries of coloured silks, and the
elaborate use of gold and silver threadwork, first suggested painting,
sculpture, and goldsmith's work. Certainly early Egyptian paintings
imitated embroideries, and we have good ground for supposing that
stained glass was a direct copy of the old ecclesiastical figures or
ancient church vestments. The Neolithic remains found in Britain show
that at a very early period the art of making linen-cloth was
understood. Fragments of cloth, both of linen and wool, have been
discovered in a British barrow in Yorkshire, and early bone needles
found at different parts of the country are plentiful in our museums.
There is no doubt that we owe much of our civilisation to the visit of
the Phoenicians, those strange people, who appear to have carried all
the arts and crafts of ancient Babylon and Assyria to the wonder isles
of the Greek Archipelago, to Egypt, to Southern Spain, and to Cornwall
and Devonshire. These people, dwelling on the maritime border of
Palestine, were the great traders of their age, and while coming to this
country (then in a state of wildest barbarism) for tin left in exchange
a knowledge of the arts and appliances of civilisation hitherto not
understood. The Roman Invasion (45 B.C.) brought not only knowledge of
craftsmanship but also Christianity. St. Augustine, to whom the
conversion of the Britains is credited, carried with him a banner
embroidered with the image of Christ. After the Romans had left the
country, and it had become invaded by the Celts and the Danes, and had
again been taken possession of by the Saxons, a period of not only rest
but advancement arrived, and we see early in the seventh century the
country prosperous and settled. Aldhelm, Bishop of Sherborne, wrote a
poem in which he speaks of the tapestry-weaving and the embroidery which
the women of England occupied their lives.


The earliest specimen of embroidery known to have been executed in
England is that of the stole and maniple of St. Cuthbert, which is now
treasured at Durham Cathedral. These were worked by Aelfled, the Queen
of Edward the Elder, Alfred the Great's son. She worked them for Bishop
Fridhestan in 905 A.D. Her son Athelstan, after her death, visited the
shrine of St. Cuthbert, at Chester-le-street, and in an inventory of the
rich gifts which he left there, there is recorded "one stole with a
maniple," amongst other articles. These very embroideries were removed
from the actual body of St. Cuthbert in 1827. They are described by an
eyewitness as being "of woven gold, with spaces left vacant for
needlework embroideries." Exquisitely embroidered figures are in niches
or clouds. The whole effect is described as being that of a fine
illuminated MS. of the ninth century, and indescribably beautiful.
Another great prelate, St. Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury, designed
embroideries for the execution of pious ladies of his diocese (924 A.D.).

Emma, Queen of Ethelred the Unready, and afterwards of Canute, designed
and embroidered many church vestments and altar-cloths, and Editha, wife
of Edward the Confessor, embroidered the King's coronation mantle.

The great and monumental Bayeux tapestry--which is miscalled, as it is
_embroidery_--was the work of Queen Matilda, who, like Penelope, wove
the mighty deeds of her husband and king in an immense embroidery. This
piece of needlecraft comes upon us as a shock, rather than an
admiration, after the exquisite embroideries worked by and for the
Church. It is interesting, however, as a valuable historic "document,"
showing the manners and customs of the time. The canvas is 227 feet long
and 20 inches wide, and shows events of English history from the
accession of Edward the Confessor to the defeat of Harold, at Hastings.
It is extremely crude; no attempt is made at shading, the figures being
worked in flat stitch in coloured wools, on linen canvas. Certainly it
is one of the quaintest and most primitive attempts of working pictures
by needlecraft.

The evidence of the costumes, the armour, &c., are supposed to tell us
that this tapestry was worked many years after the Conquest, but it can
be traced by documentary evidence as having been seen in Bayeux
Cathedral as far back as 1476. In the time of Napoleon I. it was removed
from the cathedral and was actually used as a covering for a transport
waggon. Finally, however, it was exhibited in the Musée Napoleon, in
1803, and was afterwards returned to Bayeux. In 1840 it was restored and
relined, and is now in the Hôtel de Ville at Bayeux!

[Illustration: KING HAROLD.

(_From the Bayeux Tapestry._)]





     "Opus Anglicanum"--The Worcester fragments--St.
     Benedict--Legend of Pope Innocent--The "Jesse" cope--The "Syon"

The great period of English embroidery is supposed to have been from the
twelfth to the thirteenth century. Very little remains to show this,
except a few fragments of vestments from the tombs of the bishops dating
from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, and other data obtained from
various foreign inventories of later date referring to the use of "Opus
Anglicanum." Some portion of the Worcester fragments may be seen in the
South Kensington Museum, and can only be described as being so perfect
in workmanship, colour, and style as even at this day to be more like a
magnificent piece of goldsmith's work than that of needlecraft. The
background is apparently one mass of thread of fine gold worked in and
out of a silken mesh, the embroidery appearing just as clear and neat in
manipulation as an illumination. The coloured photographs, which may be
seen in the same room, of the stole and maniple of St. Cuthbert are of
precisely the same work. Judging from these, and the embroidered orphrey
which the authorities bought from the Hockon Collection for £119 1s.
10d. and which is only 4 feet 8 inches long, there is no doubt that this
was, _par excellence_, the finest period. The work can only be described
as being like an old Italian painting on a golden ground. We see
precisely such design and colouring in ancient paintings for altars as
in the old Italian Triptychs. This style was carried out as literally as
possible. Even the defects, if so they may be called, are there, and a
slight topheaviness of the figures serves but to accentuate the

There is a legend that during the times of the Danish incursions St.
Benedict travelled backwards and forwards through France and Italy, and
brought with him during his _seven_ journeys artificers in _glass_ and
_stone_, besides costly books and copies of the Scriptures. The chief
end and aim of monastic life, both of monk and nun, in those early days
was to embroider, paint, and illuminate their sacred books, vestments,
and edifices with what was to them a newly-inspired faith.

Dr. Rock, in his "Church of Our Fathers," says that from the twelfth
century to the time of Henry VIII. that only the best materials that
could be found in our country or that of other lands were employed, and
that the art that was used on them was the best that could be learnt or
given. The original fabrics often came from Byzantium or were of
Saracenic origin.

[Illustration: FROM THE "JESSE" COPE (_South Kensington Museum_).

English, early Fourteenth Century.]

The story of Pope Innocent III., who, seeing certain vestments and
orphreys, and being informed that they were English, said, "Surely
England must be a garden of delight!" must be quoted to show how English
work was appreciated in those early days.

The choicest example in this country of this glorious period of English
embroidery is the famous Syon cope, which is supposed to rank as the
most magnificent garment belonging to the Church. It may be regarded as
a typical example of real English work, the "Opus Anglicanum" or
"Anglicum," which, although used for other purposes, such as
altar-cloths and altar-frontals, found apparently its fullest scope in
these large semicircular mantles.

Amongst the many copes treasured at South Kensington there are none,
amidst all their splendour, as fine as this, although the fragment of
the "Jesse" cope runs it very closely. There are many copes of this
period in different parts of the Continent--the Daroca Cope at Madrid,
one at Ascagni, another at Bologna, at St. Bertrand-de-Comminges, at
"St. John Lateran" at Rome, at Pienza and Toleda, and a fragment of one
with the famous altar-frontal at Steeple Aston. These are all assumed to
be of "Opus Anglicanum," and they may be described as being technically
perfect, the stitches being of fine small tambour stitch, beautifully
even, and the draperies exquisitely shaded.

The illustration showing the Syon Cope requires some little explanation.
It is wrought on linen, embroidered all over with gold and silver thread
and coloured silk. It is 9 feet 7 inches long, 4 feet 8 inches wide.
The whole of the cope except the border is covered with interlacing
quatrefoils outlined in gold. The ground of these quatrefoils is covered
with red silk and the spaces between them with green silk. Each
quatrefoil is filled with scenes from the life of Christ, the Virgin,
and figures of St. Michael and of the Apostles. On the green spaces are
worked figures of six-winged angels standing on whorls. The chief place
on the quatrefoils is given to the crucifixion, where the body of the
Saviour is worked in silver and cloth of gold. The Virgin, arrayed in
green tunic and golden mantle, is on one side and St. John, in gold, on
the other. Above the quatrefoil is another representing the Redeemer
seated on a cushioned throne with the Virgin, and below another
representing St. Michael overcoming Satan. Other quatrefoils show
"Christ appearing to St. Mary Magdalen," "The Burial of the Virgin,"
"The Coronation of the Virgin," "The Death of the Virgin with the
Apostles surrounding her," "The Incredulity of St. Thomas," "St. Simon,"
"St. Bartholomew," "St. Peter," "St. Paul," "St. Thomas," "St. Andrew,"
and "St. James." Portions of four other Apostles may be seen, but at
some period the cope has been cut down. In its original state the cope
showed the twelve Apostles. The lower portion has been cut away and
reshaped, and round this is an edging apparently made out of a stole and
maniple which point to a later date, as they are worked chiefly in
cross-stitch. On the orphrey are emblazoned the arms of Warwick, Castile
and Leon, Ferrars, Geneville Everard, the badge of the Knights
Templars, Clifford, Spencer, Lindsay, Le Botelier, Sheldon, Monteney of
Essex, Champernoun, Everard, Tyddeswall Grandeson, Fitz Alan, Hampden,
Percy, Clanvowe, Ribbesford, Bygod, Roger de Mortimer, Grove, B.
Bassingburn, and many others not recognisable. These coats of arms, it
is suggested, belonged to the noble dames who worked the border. The
angels which fill the intervening spaces are of the six-winged
varieties, each standing on whorls or wheels.

[Illustration: THE "SYON" COPE.

(_S.K.M. Collection._)]

The cope is worked in a fine tambour or chain stitch principally. All
the faces, bodies, and draperies are composed of this. A specially
noticeable point is that the faces are worked spirally, beginning in the
centre of the cheek and being worked round and round, conforming with
the muscles of the face. The garments are worked according to the hang
of the drapery, very fine effects being obtained. After the work has
been completed a hot iron something like a little iron rod with a
bulbous end has been pressed into the cheeks, under the throat, and in
different parts of the nude body. Occasionally, but seldom, the same
device may be seen in the drapery. All the work is exquisitely fine and
perfectly even. The groundwork of the quatrefoils is of gold-laid or
"couch" work, as is also that of the armorial bearings.

The name "Syon" is somewhat misleading, as the Cope was not made here,
but came into the hands of the Bridgettine nuns in 1414, when Henry V.
founded the convent of "Syon" at Isleworth. Its origin and date will
ever be a matter of conjecture, but Dr. Rock infers that Coventry may
have been the place of its origin. Taking Coventry as a centre with a
small radius, several of the great feudal houses the arms of which are
on the border of the cope may be found, and Dr. Rock further supposes
that Eleanor, widow of Edward the First, may have become a sister of the
fraternity unknown, as her arms, Castile and Leon, are on it. "The whole
must have taken long in working, and the probability is that it was
embroidered by nuns of some convent which stood on or near Coventry."
However this may be, it is certain that this splendid piece of English
work came into the hands, by some means, of the nuns of Syon, and after
remaining with them at Isleworth till Elizabeth's time, it was carried
by them through Flanders, France, and Portugal. They remained at the
latter place till the same persecution which dispersed the famous
Spanish Point lace over the length and breadth of the Continent, and
about eighty years ago it was brought back to England, and was given by
the remaining members of the Order to the Earl of Shrewsbury. After
further vicissitudes of a varied character it was bought by the South
Kensington Museum for £110, and now sheds the glory of its golden
threads in a dark transept unnoticed except by the student.




English, Fourteenth Century.]



     The Pierpont Morgan purchase--The Steeple Aston
     Altar-frontal--The "Nevil" Altar-frontal at S. K. M.--City
     palls--Diagram of vestments.

Other copes of the same period are in the Madrid Museum, two copes at
Bologna, and the "Ascoli" cope recently purchased by Mr. J. Pierpont
Morgan and generously returned by him. Some cushions from Catworth
Church, Huntingdon, now at the South Kensington Museum, were probably
cut from copes, and bought by permission of the Bishop of Ely for £27. A
long band of red velvet at South Kensington Museum embroidered with gold
and silver and coloured silk has evidently been made from the "Apparels"
of an alb. It is in two pieces, each piece depicting five scenes divided
by broad arches. The first five are from the life of the Virgin, and
are: "The Angel appearing to Anna," "The Meeting of Anna and Joachim,"
"Birth of the Virgin," "Presentation of the Virgin," "Education of the
Virgin." In the second piece are: "The Annunciation," "The Salutation,"
"The Nativity," "The Angel appearing to the Shepherds," and the
"Journey of the Magi."

Another piece of similar work is the altar-frontal of Steeple Aston,
which was originally a cope, and the cope now at Stonyhurst College,
originally belonging to Westminster Cathedral. It is made of one
seamless piece of gold tissue.

During this great period of English embroidery certain characteristics
along with its superb workmanship must be noticed. The earlier the work
the finer the modelling of the figures. In the figures of the St.
Cuthbert and the Worcester fragments the proportions of the figures are
exquisite; at a later date, while the work is just as excellent, the
figures become unnatural, the heads being unduly large, the eyes
staring, and the perspective entirely out of drawing. Until the
fourteenth century this comes so gradually as to be scarcely noted; but
after and through the fifteenth century this becomes so marked as to be
almost grotesque, and only the genuine religious fervour with which
these poor remnants have been worked prevents many of them being
ridiculous. The faces gradually show less careful drawing and working,
and the figures become squat and topheavy. The emblems of the saints are
often omitted.


(_S.K.M. Collection._)]

This decline in the embroiderer's art is specially noticeable in an
extraordinary panel to be seen at South Kensington Museum, where an
altar-frontal of stamped crimson velvet is appliqued in groups of
figures in gold, silver, and silks. In the middle is the Crucifixion,
with the Virgin and St. John standing on a strip covered with flowers.
On the left is Ralph Nevil, fourth Earl of Westmoreland, 1523, kneeling,
and behind him his seven sons. On the right is Lady Catherine Stafford,
his wife, also kneeling, and behind her kneel her thirteen daughters.
The frontal cost the museum £50 and is well worth it as an historical
document. Other important embroideries of the period to be found in
England are at Cirencester Cathedral, Ely Cathedral, Salisbury and
Carlisle Cathedrals, Chipping Norton and Little Dean in Gloucestershire,
East Langdon in Kent, Buckland and Stourton in Worcester, Littleworth in
Leicestershire, Lynn in Norfolk, and the Parish Church at Warrington.

Many of the palls belonging to the great city companies belong to this
date. The Saddlers' Company's pall is of crimson velvet embroidered with
angels surrounding "I.H.S.," and arms of the Company. The Fishmongers'
Pall, made at the end of the fifteenth century, has at one end the
figure of St. Peter (the patron saint of fishermen) enthroned, and
angels on either side, and at the other end St. Peter receiving the keys
from our Lord. The Vintners' Pall is made of Italian velvet and cloth of
gold and embroidered with St. Martin of Tours.

Religious influence characterised the embroideries of England
practically from the ninth to the sixteenth centuries. Practically all
needlework prior to 1600 is entirely ecclesiastical, and from its
limited range in choice of subjects barely does justice to the fine work
this period produced.

Dr. Rock says that "few persons of the present day have the faintest
idea of the labour, the money, the time, often bestowed on old
embroideries which had been designed by the hands of men and women each
in their own craft the best and ablest of the day."

We do not know the length of time these ancient vestments occupied in
the making, but twenty-six years is stated to be the period of making
the vestments for the Church of San Giovanni, in Florence. This is all
worked in close stitches similar to our English work.

_Ancient Church Vestments._

The names of the ecclesiastical vestments are somewhat puzzling to those
of us who do not belong to the Romish Church, or even to the English
High Church. The vestments described are, we believe, in use in the
Romish churches now as in the early times when church embroidery was the
pleasure and the labour of all classes of English women. The
accompanying diagram will better illustrate the use of these vestments
than a page of writing.


1. Amice.
2. Orphreys.
3. Chasuble.
4. Sleeves of Alb.
5 and 9. Apparel of Alb.
6. Maniple.
7. Stole.
8. Alb.

_From "A Guide to Ecclesiastical Law," by kind permission of Mr. Henry

       *       *       *       *       *

The Alb is often trimmed handsomely with lace, the apparels are stitched
on to the front. The Stoles ought to have three crosses embroidered on
it and be 3 yards long. Over this comes the Chasuble, which is the
last garment the priest puts on before celebrating Mass. The Cope is a
huge semi-circular 10 ft. wide cape. The Maniple is a strip of
embroidery 3 ft. 4 in. long worn over the left wrist of the priest.


English, Fifteenth or early Sixteenth Century.

(_S.K.M. Collection._)]





     The influences of the Reformation--Queen Catherine of Aragon's
     needlecraft--The gorgeous clothes of Henry VIII.--Field of the
     Cloth of Gold--Queen Elizabeth's embroideries.

After the Reformation and the wholesale destruction of the cathedrals,
monasteries, and churches, the gentle dames of England found their
occupation gone. The priestly vestments, the sumptuous altar-cloths, and
gorgeous hangings were now needless. Those which had been the glory of
their owners, and the pictorial representations of Biblical life to the
uneducated masses of people, had been ruthlessly torn down and destroyed
for the sake of the gold to be found on them. As in the time immediately
preceding the French Revolution, costly embroideries were unpicked, and
the amount of gold and silver obtained from them became a source of
income and profit to their destroyers.

Apart from her household, women had no other interests in those days,
unless we accept such anomalies as Lady Jane Grey, who was a marvel of
learning and wisdom. All their long leisure hours had been spent, not in
improving their minds, but in beautifying the churches with specimens of
their skill. Catherine of Aragon, one of the unfortunate queens of Henry
VIII., was a notable needlewoman, and spent much of her short, unhappy
time as Queen of England in embroidery. The lace-making of Northampton
is said to have been commenced by her during her period of retirement
after her divorce. The "Spanish stitch," which was known and used in
embroidery of that period, was introduced by her from her own country,
and many examples of her skill in embroidery are to be seen in the
British Museum and the various homes belonging to our old nobility.

During the reign of Henry VIII. dress became very sumptuous, as the
contemporary pictures of the times show. Indeed, all the fervour and
feeling which ladies had worked in religious vestments now seemed to
find refuge in the over-elaboration of personal wear. Very little lace
was used, and that of only a primitive description, so that effect was
produced by embroidery in gold and silver threads and the use of pearls
and precious stones. The dress of the nobles in the time of Henry VIII.
was especially gorgeous, the coats being thickly padded and quilted with
gold bullion thread, costly jewels afterwards being sewn in the
lozenges. It is related that after his successful divorce King Henry
gave a banquet to celebrate his marriage to Anne Boleyn, and wore a coat
covered with the jewelled letters "H," and in the height of his
satisfaction allowed the ladies to cut or tear away the jewels as
souvenirs of his triumph over Wolsey and Catherine. It is said that he
was left in his underwear, so great was the competition for these
favours! Robes made of gold tissue, then called Cloth of Gold, were
used, and in Henry's meeting with Francis I. the English and French
armies vied with each other as to which should present a greater
magnificence. The name "the Field of the Cloth of Gold" remains as a
guarantee of its splendour.

Under the more austere and religious rule of Queen Mary we might suppose
that ecclesiastical embroidery would have somewhat regained a foothold.
But the landmarks had been entirely swept away, and we have little to
record of the reign, except that Mary herself was a clever needlewoman
and worked much of her heartache, at the neglect of her Spanish husband,
into her needlework. Her jealousy of her sister Elizabeth caused the
latter to spend her life away from the pomps and ceremonies of the
Court, and she has left many records of her handiwork, some well
authenticated, as, for example, the two exquisite book-covers in the
British Museum. Queen Elizabeth cannot, however, be said to have been in
any way a patroness of the art of needlecraft. Her talent seems rather
to have been devoted to affairs of State--and her wardrobe! On her
death, at seventy years of age, she left over one thousand dresses, most
of which must have been a cruel weight, so overburdened were they with
stiff bullion and trimmed with large pearls and jewels. Her dresses were
literally diapered with gold and silver "gimps" inset with heavier
stones, but little real embroidery is shown.

Mary Queen of Scots, on the contrary, was a born needlewoman. During her
married life in France she learned the gentle arts of embroidery and
lace-making, accomplishments which, as in many humbler women's lives,
have served their owners in good stead in times of loneliness and
trouble. The Duke of Devonshire possesses specimens of Queen Mary's
skill, worked during the long, dreary days of her imprisonment at
Fotheringay. It is said that Queen Elizabeth was not above helping
herself to the wardrobe and laces that the unfortunate Queen of Scotland
brought with her from France.

Much embroidery must have been worked for the adornment of the house
after the Reformation, but beyond an occasional old inventory nothing is
left to show it. After the Reformation greater luxury in living
obtained, and instead of the clean or rush-strewn floors some kind of
floor-covering was used. Furniture became much more ornamental, and the
use of hangings for domestic purposes was common. Not a thread of these
hand-worked hangings remain, but we have the immense and immediate use
of tapestry, which first became a manufacture of England in the reign of
Henry VIII. It is easy to conceive that English women would readily
seize upon the idea supplied in tapestry and adapt its designs to that
of embroidery. It is certain that hangings for the old four-post beds
were embroidered, as in the inventory of Wolsey's great palace at
Hampton Court there is mention of 230 bed-hangings of English
embroidery. Nothing of this remains, so that its style is simply
conjectural; and we can only suppose these hangings to have been
replicas of the magnificent velvet and satin hangings, covered with laid
or couched gold and silver threads, such as Catherine of Aragon would
bring with her from Spain. This also would account for their absolute
disappearance. The value of the gold and silver in embroidery has always
been a fertile source of wealth to the destroyer of ancient fabrics,
while many embroideries worked only in silks have escaped this




Late Sixteenth Century.

(_S.K.M. Collection._)]



     "Petit point"--old list of stitches--Stuart

Towards the end of James I.'s reign it is supposed that the earliest
needlework pictures appeared. They were obviously literal copies of the
tapestries which had now become of general use in the homes of the
wealthy, being worked in what is known as "petit point," or "little
stitch." This stitch was worked on canvas of very close quality, with
fine silk thread, one stitch only being taken over the junction of the
warp and the weft of the canvas instead of the "cross stitch" of later
days. Very few of these specimens are left of an early date. A panel,
measuring 30 inches by 16 inches, in perfect condition, and dated 1601,
was sold at Christie's Rooms this year for £115. The purchaser, Mr.
Stoner, of King Street, sold it next day at a very considerable profit.

At this period the workers of these pictures did not draw upon Biblical
subjects for their inspiration (with great advantage to the picture, it
may be stated). The subjects were either fanciful adaptations from real
life, with the little people dressed in contemporary costume, or dainty
little mythological subjects, such as the "Judgment of Paris," "Corydon
wooing Phyllis," with most absurd little castles of Tudor construction
in impossible landscapes, where the limpid stream meandered down
fairy-like hills into a shining lake, which held dolphins under the
water and water-fowl above it. The illustration depicts such a specimen,
and shows one of these tiny pictures worked in no less than ten
different stitches of lacework, in addition to the usual petit point.
The number of these stitches is legion. In the reign of Charles I., John
Taylor, the water-poet, wrote in 1640:

    "For tent worke, raised worke, first worke, laid worke, net worke,
    Most curious purl, or rare Italian cut worke,
    Fire, ferne stitch, finny stitch, new stitch, chain stitch,
    Brave bred stitch, fisher stitch, Irish stitch, and Queen stitch,
    The Spanish stitch, Rosemary stitch, and mowle stitch,
    The smarting whip stitch, back stitch, and cross stitch;
    All these are good, and this we must allow,
    And they are everywhere in practice now."


(_Author's Collection._)]

These are not _all_ the stitches in vogue during the first era of
needlework pictures. A single glance at one of the early specimens,
though it may not _charm_, fills one with amazement at the amount of
toil, ingenuity, patience, and downright _love_ for the work the ancient
needlewoman must have possessed. Not only pictures, however, were
made in petit point. Many dainty little accessories of the toilet gave
scope to the delicate fancy and nimble fingers of the ladies who had
found solace from the cessation of their labours for the priesthood in
making dainty little handbags and other pretty articles, each a marvel
of minute handicraft. One bag in my possession measures only four inches
square, and is worked on fine canvas, about forty threads to the square
inch, the design being the favourite Tudor rose, each petal worked in
lace stitch, and raised from the centre which is made of knots worked
with golden hair, flat green leaves exquisitely shaded, and a charming
bit of the worker's skill in the shape of a pea's pod, open and raised,
showing the tiny little peas in a row. An exquisitely worked butterfly
with raised wings in lace stitch is on the other side. The grounding of
the whole is run with flat gold thread, making a "cloth of gold" ground,
strings made of similarly worked canvas, with gold thread and silk
tassels complete a bag fit for the Princess Golden Locks of our fairy
tales. This little bag cost the writer 5 guineas, and was cheap at the
price. The South Kensington Museum have several specimens, and although
many are very exquisite, there is not one quite so perfect in design nor
in such condition. Other little trifles made in similar style are the
embroidered gauntlets of the buff leather glove worn at the time. These
have become rarer than any other embroideries, as they were not merely
for ornament but for actual wear. Four or five of these gauntlet gloves
are in the South Kensington Collection, but are of a later date than
the "petit point" period.

The use of gloves in England was not very general, we may infer, in the
earlier ages of embroidery. There are certain evidences, however,
showing that the glove was part of the priestly outfit, remains of
gloves having been found on the bones of Thomas à Becket when they were
transferred from the crypt of Canterbury Cathedral to the special shrine
prepared for them; and a crimson leather pair, bearing the sacred
monogram in embroidered gold, are preserved in the New College, Oxford,
belonging to the founder, William of Wykeham, who opened the college in

It was not until the fourteenth century that the wearing of gloves
became general, and practically nothing remains to show what manner of
hand-covering was worn until the Tudor period. Henry VIII. was
exceptionally lavish and extravagant in the use of handsomely
embroidered gloves, and few of his portraits show him without a
sumptuous glove in one hand. He had gloves for all functions--like a
modern fashionable woman. A pair of hawking gloves belonging to him are
in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, and in South Kensington is one of a
pair presented by Henry to his friend and Councillor Sir Anthony Denny.
It is of buff, thin leather, with a white satin gauntlet, embroidered
with blue and red silk in applique work, decorated with seed-pearls and
spangles, and trimmed with gold lace. The Tudor rose, the crown, and the
lion are worked amidst a splendour of gold and pearls.

[Illustration: A STUART GLOVE.

(_S.K.M. Collection._)]

Queen Elizabeth must have inherited her love for gorgeous apparel along
with her strong personality and masterful spirit, as her expenditure for
gloves alone was proverbial. The favourite offering to her was a pair of
gloves, but she was not above accepting shoes, handkerchiefs, laces, and
even gowns from her faithful and admiring subjects. On her visit to
Oxford in 1578 she was presented by the Chancellor of the University
with a pair of perfumed gloves, embroidered with gold and set with
jewels, which cost the University sixty shillings, an immense sum in
those days. Other historic gloves are in the various museums of the
country, seldom or never coming into the open market. In the
Braikenridge Collection sold at Christie's in February of this year I
was able to secure one for £2 12s. 6d., immediately afterwards being
offered double the price for it.

The gloves belonging to Charles I. and Queen Henrietta Maria were very
ornamental, and it is said that even Oliver Cromwell, with all his
austerity, was not proof against the fascination of the decorated glove.

With Charles II. the embroidered gloves seem to have vanished along with
the stumpwork pictures, of which more anon.

Dainty shoes were embroidered in those old times. These, being articles
of wear, like the gloves, are very rare. The same fine petit point work
is seen on them; seed-pearls and in-run gold threads adorn them, and
frequently the Tudor rose, in raised work, forms the shoe knot. Two
pairs in Lady Wolseley's Collection, sold in 1906, fetched six guineas,
and nine and a half guineas. Tiny pocket-books were covered with this
pretty work, and charming covers almost as fresh as when they were
worked are occasionally unearthed, made to hold the old-fashioned
housekeeping and cooking books.

One wonders oftentime how many, and yet, alas! how few, specimens of
this old petit point work have been preserved. It is only during recent
years that the "cult of the antique" has been fashionable, and is also
becoming a source of income and profit to the many who indulge in its
quest. Only members of learned antiquarian societies or born reliquaries
troubled themselves to acquire ancient articles of historic interest
because they were _old_, and served to form the sequence in the fairy
tales of Time. Anything "old" was ruthlessly destroyed, as being either
past wear, shabby, or old-fashioned, and countless treasures, both in
ecclesiastical and secular art, have at all periods been recklessly
destroyed for the sake of their intrinsic value in gold or jewels. In
the early days of my life I was allowed to pick out the corals and
seed-pearls from an old Stuart needle picture "for a doll's necklace!"
the picture itself probably going into the "rag-bag" of the
mid-Victorian good housekeeper.





     Secret drawers and hidden receptacles--High prices in the

Among the many treasures of this exquisite period of needlecraft are the
well-known Stuart caskets. Very interesting and valuable are these
charming boxes, many of them being in a fine state of preservation,
owing to their having been enclosed in either a wooden or leathern box
specially made to contain them. These queer little boxes are frequently
made in the shape of Noah's ark. The lid being raised, a fitted mirror
is disclosed. The mirror slides out, and a secret recess may be
discovered to hold letters. The front falls down, disclosing any number
of tiny drawers, each drawer being silk-lined and the front of it
embroidered. Here, again, we may look for secret drawers. Very seldom
does the drawer run to the width of the cabinet, but by removing every
drawer and carefully searching for springs or slides many a tiny recess
is disclosed, where costly jewels, and perhaps a love-gage, has reposed
safely from the sight of unworthy eyes.

Every square inch of these caskets is covered with embroidery, sometimes
in canvas, worked with the usual scriptural or mythological design, and
in others with white satin, exquisitely embroidered with figures and
floral subjects. Those in best preservation have been covered with mica,
which has preserved both the colour and the fabric. The fittings are
generally of silver. On the few occasions when these boxes or caskets
come into the market high prices are realised. Messrs. Christie last
year obtained £40 for a good specimen. I have never seen one sold under
£30, and as much as £100 has been given.

Another pretty fancy was to cover small trays, presumably for the work
or dressing table, with embroidery. Not many of these remain, the wear
of removing them from place to place having been too much for their
staying powers. One in my possession is a small hexagonal tray with
raised sides, embroidered in coloured silks in floral design, on what
was once white satin. It is by no means a thing of beauty now, but as a
specimen it is interesting, and "a poor thing, but mine own," which
covers a multitude of shortcomings in these old relics, fortunately.

[Illustration: "STUART" MIRROR FRAME.

(_Lady Wolseley's Collection._)]

Far more frequently met with, though quite prohibitive in price, are the
Stuart embroidered mirrors, which easily command £80 to £100 in the
salerooms. They are generally set in a frame of oak, leaving five or six
inches (which would otherwise be covered with carving or veneer) for
the embroidery. The mirror itself is comparatively small, being only
a secondary consideration, and often little remains of it for its
original purpose, as the glass is blurred and the silvering gone. Many
of these mirrors have _bevelled_ glass, which, of course, is wrong.

The mirror shown in the illustration is one recently belonging to
Viscountess Wolseley and sold by her, among other Stuart needlework
specimens, at Messrs. Puttick & Simpson's in 1906. This mirror sold for
£100. The figures represent Charles I. and Queen Henrietta Maria, one on
either side of the mirror. The figure at the top of the frame is
difficult to understand; whether she is an angel or a mere Court lady
must be left to conjecture. The rolling clouds and the blazing sun are
above her head, and a peacock, with tail displayed, is on one side and a
happy-looking stag on the other. Two royal residences adorn the topmost
panels on either side, with all their bravery of flying flags and
smoking chimneys, and the lion and the leopard occupy the lower panels.
The latter animal identifies the King and Queen, who might otherwise be
Charles II. and his consort, as after Charles I.'s time the leopard gave
place to the unicorn for some unexplained reason. Other typical little
Stuart animals and birds fill in the extra panels, such as the spotted
dog who chases a little hare who is never caught, and the gaily-coloured
parroquet and kingfisher, which no respectable Stuart picture would be
without. The caterpillar, the ladybird, and the snail are all _en
evidence_; and below is a real pond, covered with talc, and containing
fish and ducks, the banks being made of tiny branching coral beads and
tufted silk and bullion work.

About this time, when Venetian lace came into fashionable use as an
adjunct to the exquisite Stuart dress, tiny coloured beads were imported
from Venice. The embroiderers at once seized upon them as a new and
possibly more lasting means of showing their pretty fancies in design.
Many delightful specimens of these beadwork pictures are preserved, the
colours, of course, being as fresh as yesterday. The ground was always
of white satin, now faded and discoloured with age, and often torn with
the heaviness of the beadwork design. They are scarcely so charming as
the all needlework pictures, but still are delightful and covetable
articles. The exigencies of the beadwork, however, lends a certain
stiffness and ungainliness to the figures.



[Illustration: "STUART" BOOK COVER.

(_British Museum._)]



     Style and symbolism--Specimen in British Museum and Bodleian
     Libraries--"Black work"

Among the many dainty examples of Tudor and Stuart needlework are to be
found the exquisitely embroidered book-covers which date from Queen
Elizabeth's girlhood until the time of Charles II. They were always of
diminutive size, and many stitches diversify their covering; oftentimes
they were liberally embroidered with seed-pearls, and in these instances
most frequently this fashion has been their salvation. A book somehow
always seems to be a more sacred thing than a picture, and the costly
little volumes which remain to show this dainty handicraft have
apparently always been used either for Church or private devotional

The designs of the book-covers almost always follow certain styles.
These are either heraldic, scriptural, symbolical, floral, or arabesque.

The first-named variety usually belonged to royalty or one of the many
noble houses whose ladies busied themselves with fair needlework. The
shield, containing the coat of arms of the family, occupied the centre
of the book-cover, being formed in raised gold and silver guipure or
cord, and on the reverse the worker's initials frequently appear, with a
pretty border in gold and silver, to outline the edges.

The scriptural book-covers are always worked on canvas in fine petit
point stitches. One in South Kensington Museum is larger than most of
these volumes, and has on one side Solomon in all his glory and on the
reverse Jacob and his ladder and King David. These canvas-covered books
appear to have suffered most from the wear and tear of time, and very
few remain.

The symbolical covers are few, and mostly uninteresting. They are worked
as a rule on silk and satin in loose satin stitches, which have suffered
much from friction. The sacred monogram is often the centre of the
device. A favourite design was adorning the back of the books with
portraits of the martyred King Charles I., Queen Henrietta Maria, and
the popular Duke of Buckingham.


Said to have been the property of Queen Elizabeth.

(_In Countess Brownlow's Collection._)]

The stitches used were generally chain-stitch, split-stitch, petit
point, and lace-stitch; and the patterns were most frequently outlined
with a gimp made of flattened spiral wire, or _purl_, which was a fine
copper wire covered with coloured silks and cut in lengths for use. Very
often, also, small silver spangles were employed, either stitched down
with a piece of purl or a seed-pearl. Frequently the covers were of
velvet with the designs appliquéd down to it, and _laid_ or _couch_ work
outlined the designs. Sometimes flat pieces of metal were cut to shape
and stitched down, as in one instance where the corners of the books
were trimmed with the rays of the sun cut in gold, and stitched over
with a gold thread.

Many of the charming little bags of which mention has already been made
are supposed to have been worked to hold the Prayer Book and Book of
Psalms, without which no devout lady deemed herself fully equipped.

The most famous book is Queen Elizabeth's Book in the British Museum.
The cover is of choice green velvet, the flat of the back has five roses
embroidered in lace, raised stitches and gold and pearl. The Royal Arms
are on either side of the book in a lozenge of red silk and pearls. The
whole design, apart from this, is worked in red and white roses and
scrolls of gold and silk. This gorgeous little cover contains "The
Mirrour of Glasse of the Synneful Soul," written by Elizabeth herself,
and of it she writes that she "translated it out of french ryme into
english prose, joyning the sentences together as well as the capacities
of my symple witte and small lerning could extende themselves." It is
dedicated "To our most noble and virtuous Queen Katherine [Katherine
Parr] from Assherige, the last day of the year of our Lord God, 1544."

In the Bodleian Library there is another treasured little book, again
worked by Queen Elizabeth. It is only 7 inches by 5 inches, and has the
same design on both sides. In this the ground is what is known as
"tapestry stitch," worked in thick, pale-blue silk, and the design is of
interlacing gold and silver threads with a Tudor rose in each corner.
"K. P." is marked on the cover, and shows that this also was worked for
Queen Katherine Parr.

Yet another little book is in the British Museum. It contains a prayer
composed by Queen Katherine Parr, and is written on vellum by Queen

The cover illustrated is a typical example of the class of embroidered
works of the period. Later the covers showed less intricate work, and
finally developed into mere velvet covers embroidered with silver or

[Illustration: STUART EMBROIDERED CAP. (_S.K.M. Collection._)]


A curious phase of Old English embroidery is the well-known "Black
Work," which is said to have been introduced by Catherine of Aragon into
England, and was also known as "Spanish work." The work itself was a
marvel of neatness, precision, and elegant design, but the result cannot
be said to have been commensurate with the labour of its production.
Most frequently the design was of scroll-work, worked with a fine black
silk back-stitching or chain-stitch. Round and round the stitches go,
following each other closely. Bunches of grapes are frequently worked
solidly, and even the popular peascod is worked in outline stitch, and
often the petit point period lace stitches are copied, and roses and
birds worked separately and after stitched to the design. There are many
examples of this famous "Spanish" work in the South Kensington
Museum. Quilts, hangings, coats, caps, jackets, smocks are all to be
seen, some with a couched thread of gold and silver following the lines
of the scrolls. This is said to be the Spanish stitch referred to in the
old list of stitches, and very likely may be so, as the style and manner
are certainly not English; and we know that Catherine of Aragon brought
wonders of Spanish stitchery with her, and she herself was devoted to
the use of the needle. The story of how when called before Cardinal
Wolsey and Campeggio, to answer to King Henry's accusations, she had a
skein of embroidery silk round her neck is well known.

The black silk outline stitchery or linen lasted well through the late
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Very little of it is seen outside
the museums, as, not being strikingly beautiful or attractive, it has
been destroyed.

Another phase of the same stitchery was working cotton and linen
garments, hangings, and quilts in a kind of quilted pattern with yellow

Anything more unlike the quilting of fifty years ago cannot be imagined.
The finest materials were used, the padding being placed bit by bit in
its place--not in the wholesale fashion of later years, when a sheet or
two of wadding was placed between the sheets of cotton or linen, and a
coarse back-stitching outlined in great scrawling patterns held the
whole together. The old "quilting" work was made in tiny panels,
illustrating shields and other heraldic devices, and had a surface as
fine as carved ivory. When, as in the case of one sample at South
Kensington, the quilt is additionally embroidered with beautiful fine
floss silk flowers, the effect is very lovely.





     "Petit point"--"Stump work"--Royalistic symbols.

Though these pictures bear the name of Stuart, many of them are
undoubtedly Tudor. The earliest (if the evidence of costume is of any
value) must have been worked in Elizabeth's time, but as the
authenticated specimens date only from the reign of James I. they are
known as Stuart. The only pictures worked in the early days of this art
were worked in petit-point, the tiny stitch which imitated tapestry, and
very quaint are the specimens left to us. The favourite themes were
entirely pagan. Gods and goddesses disported themselves among leafy
trees. Cupid lightly shot his arrows, the woods were inhabited by an
unknown flora and fauna which seem all its own. The very dogs seem to be
a different species, having more likeness to the china dogs of the
spotted or liver and white variety which the Staffordshire potters made
at the beginning of our own century. Innumerable little castles were
perched in perfectly inaccessible positions on towering crags, and the
laws of perspective were generally conspicuous by their absence. The sun
in those days was a very visible body, and apparently delightful to
work, no Stuart picture being without one; the rolling clouds oftentimes
are confused with the convoluted body of the caterpillar, little
difference being made in the design. The birds were of very brilliant
plumage, and the world was evidently a very gay and sportive place when
these fair ladies spent their leisure over this embroidery! These early
pictures seldom show the religious feeling that afterwards slowly worked
its way through the Stuart days (though, perhaps, disguised under
royalistic symbolism), until in the reign of Queen Anne it became more
or less a fashion, in pictorial needle-craft. It burst out afresh in the
early nineteenth century and became an absolute obsession of the early
Victorian Berlin-wool workers with most disastrous results to both
design and work.

Until the end of Charles I.'s reign needlework pictures must have been
scarce, as we find one enumerated in the inventory of his "Closet of
Rarities." It is possible that the many pictures which represent Charles
I. were worked by loyalist ladies, _after his execution_ and _during the
Commonwealth_. In many of these pictures his own hair is said to have
been used, thereby becoming relics of him who was known as "the Martyred
King." On a very finely worked portrait of Charles I., at South
Kensington Museum, King Charles's hair is worked amongst the silken


(_S.K.M. Collection._)]

Throughout this time, no matter what the subjects, most of which were
notably striking scenes from Scripture history, such as "Esther and King
Ahasuerus," "Solomon and the Queen of Sheba," "The Judgment of Solomon"
(a very favourite subject), and other scenes of Old Testament history,
all the kings were Charles I. and all the Queens Henrietta Maria. One
and all wore early Stuart costumes. Even Pharaoh's daughter wore the
handsome dress of the day, with Point lace falling collar and real
pearls round her neck. It is a fashion to jeer at this anachronism; but
may it not perhaps be that we take these pictures too literally, and
deny the workers their feelings of passionate devotion to the lost
cause. Doubtless they worked their loyalty to their beloved monarch into
these pretty and pleasing fancies, just as it is said that the fashion
of "finger-bowls" was introduced later so that the loyal gentlemen of
the day might drink to the King "_over the water_." I see no cause to
deny intelligence to these dear dead women, who were capable of
exquisite needlecraft and fine design, and whose devotion was shown in
many instances by giving up jewels, houses, and lands for the King!

The fashion of "stump" or stamp work appears to have been derived from
Italy. Italian needlework of this time abounds with it, and, it must be
admitted, of a superior design, and style to that which was known here
as "stump" work. Until the eighteenth century English work was more or
less archaic in every branch. Personally, I see no more absurdity in the
queer doll-like figures than in contemporary wood-carving. It was a
period of tentative effort, and was, of course, beneath criticism.
English Art has ever been an effort until its one bright burst of genius
in the eighteenth century, while the continental nations appear to have
breathed artistic perception with life itself.

The prototype of our stump work pictures, the Italian raised work, are
gracious, graceful figures perfectly proportioned, and set in lovely
elegant arabesques, with no exaggeration of style or period. Some
specimens of this work must have been brought from Italy, through
France, and the English workers quickly adopted and adapted them to
their own heavier intelligence. Some of the little figures are certainly
very grotesque. Frequently the tiny little hands are larger than the
heads, but the _stitchery_ is exquisite.

No time seems to have been too long to have been spent in perfecting the
petals of a rose, the loose wing of a butterfly, or to make a realistic
curtain in fine Point lace stitches to hang from the King's canopy. Some
of the King's dresses are said to have been made of tiny treasured
pieces of his garments. There is no doubt that much devoted sentiment
was worked into these little figures, and these touches of nature add a
pathetic interest to them.


(_S.K.M. Collection._)]

In the illustration of "King Solomon receiving the Queen of Sheba" from
the South Kensington Collection Solomon is obviously King Charles I.,
while the Queen of Sheba is equally recognisable as Queen Henrietta
Maria. The picture is perhaps the finest in the Kensington Collection,
the colours being fresh and the work intact. The little faces are
worked over a padding of soft frayed silk or wool, the features being
drawn in fine back-stitch. Natural hair is worked on the King's and
Queen's heads, and the crowns are real gold thread set with pearls. The
canopy is worked _solidly_ in silk and gold thread, and from it hang
loose curtains in old brocade, worked over and over with gold and silken

The King's mantle and that of the Lord Chamberlain are worked in Point
lace stitches, afterwards applied to the bodies and hanging loosely. The
Queen's dress is brocade, worked over with gold and silver, while
strings of real pearls decorate the necks and wrists of the ladies, and
real white lace of the Venetian variety trims the neck and sleeves of
these fairy people. The Stuart castle we see perched up among the trees
and touching the sun's beams is more like an English farmhouse than
Whitehall. Yet either this or Windsor Castle is always supposed to be

The British lion and the leopard, again, make the identity of these
little people more certain. The quaint little trees bear most
disproportionate fruits, the acorn and pears being about the same size,
but all beautifully worked in Point-lace stitches over wooden moulds.
The hound and the hare, the butterfly and the grub, and the strange
birds make up one of the most typical Stuart pictures.

The next illustration shows another development of picture-making. Here
the grounding is of white satin, as in the previous illustration, but
the figures are worked on canvas separately, in fine petit-point
stitch, afterwards being cut away and placed on the white satin ground
with a few silk stitches and the whole outlined with a fine black silk
cord. The subject is "The Finding of Moses," and is as full of
anachronisms as the last, only that here again Pharaoh's daughter is
worked in memory of Queen Henrietta Maria, and the tiny boy in the
corner is Charles II., and Moses the infant Duke of York. The
four-winged cherubs are the guardian angels who are watching over the
lost fortunes of the Stuart family, and the rose of England and the lilies
of France which form the border are emblematical of the royal lineage of
their lost King's family. The hound and hare still chase each other
gaily round the border, and in the picture the hare is seen emerging,
like the Stuarts, from exile and obscurity.

Sufficient has perhaps been said to cause those who possibly may have
misunderstood these pictures to give them another glance, and allow
imagination to carry them back to the times of the exiled Royal Family
and their brave adherents, whose women allowed not their memories to
slumber nor their labours to flag. These pictures must have been made
during the Commonwealth and the reign of Charles II. In no case, to my
knowledge, has King Charles II. been depicted in stitchery, nor yet
Catherine of Braganza. James II. is equally ignored, and with him their
mission seemed to have been accomplished. Possibly the people had had by
this time sufficient of the Stuarts, and the memory of King Charles the
martyr had waxed dim. Certain it is that with James II. Stuart
needlework pictures suddenly ceased.


(_S.K.M. Collection._)]

_Stump work Symbols._

The symbolism of the various animals, birds, insects, and flowers which
are, apparently without rhyme or reason, placed in one great disarray in
the Stuart pictures is said to have been heraldic and symbolic. The
sunbeam coming from a cloud, the white falchion, and the chained hart
are heraldic devices belonging to Edward III.

The buck and the strawberry, which are so often seen, belong to the
Frazer Clan of Scotland, and may have been worked by ladies who were
kith and kin of this clan.

The unicorn was the device of James I. and the siren or mermaid of Lady
Frazer, who is said to have worked her own golden hair in the heart of a
Tudor rose on a book cover for James I.

The hart was also a device of Richard II. and the "broom pod" of the
Plantagenets. The caterpillar and butterfly were specially badges of
Charles I., while the oak-tree and acorn were invariably worked into
every picture in memory of Charles II.'s escape in an oak tree.





     Real art work--Specimens in South Kensington Museum--High price
     now obtained.

A "sampler" is an example or a sample of the worker's skill and
cleverness in design and stitching. When they first appeared, as far as
we know about the middle of the seventeenth century, they were merely a
collection of embroidery, lace, cut and drawn work stitches, and had
little affinity to the samplers of a later date, which seemed especially
ordained to show various patterns of cross stitches, the alphabet, and
the numerals.

The early samplers were real works of art; they were frequently over a
yard long, not more than a quarter of a yard wide, and were adorned with
as many as thirty different patterns of lace and cut and drawn work.
This extreme narrowness was to enable the sampler to be rolled on a
little ivory stick, like the Japanese _kakemonas_.

The foundation of all the early samplers was a coarse linen, and to this
fact we owe the preservation of many of them. Those made two hundred
years later, on a coarse, loose canvas, even now show signs of decay,
while these ancient ones on linen are as perfect as when made, only
being gently mellowed by Time to the colour of old ivory.

The earliest sampler known is dated 1643, and was worked by Elizabeth
Hinde. It is only 6 inches by 6-1/2 inches, and is entirely lacework,
and apparently has been intended for part of a sampler. The worker
perhaps changed her mind and considered rightfully that she had
accomplished her _chef d'oeuvre_, or as so often explains these
unfinished specimens, the Reaper gathered the flower, and only this
dainty piece of stitching was left to perpetuate the memory of Elizabeth

The sampler in question is just one row of cut and drawn work and
another of fine Venetian lacework, worked in "punto in aria." A lady in
Court dress holds a rose to shield herself from Cupid, a dear little
fellow with wings, who is shooting his dart at her heart. Perhaps poor
Elizabeth Hinde died of it and this is her "swan song."


(_S.K.M. Collection._)]

The earliest samplers appeared to have been worked only on white cotton
or silk. A favourite design, apart from the lacework samplers, was the
"damask pattern" sampler, a specimen of which may be noted, commencing
with the fifth row, on the sampler illustrated. Sometimes the sampler
was entirely composed of it, and although ineffective, remains as a
marvel of skill. It was worked entirely in flat satin stitch and eyelet
holes, known as the "bird's eye" pattern. In the illustration four rows
of cutwork will be noted, followed by five rows of drawn threadwork,
and above are patterns worked in floral and geometric designs in
coloured silks. The alphabet and the date 1643 complete this monument of
skill, which may be seen in the South Kensington Museum.

The succeeding illustration shows a more ambitious attempt, and is
considered one of the finest specimens known. It was worked by Elizabeth
Mackett, 1696. It is on white linen with ten rows of floral patterns
worked with coloured silks in cross, stem, and satin stitches, with some
portions worked separately and applied. Five rows of white satin stitch,
two rows of alphabet letters in coloured silks, and four rows of
exquisite punto in aria lace patterns are followed by the alphabet again
in white stitches and the maker's name and date. The sampler is in
superb preservation, the colours are particularly rich and well chosen.
This sampler is also from the South Kensington Collection. Often the
worker's name is followed by a verse or rhyme having a delightfully
prosaic tendency. One can imagine the poor girls, in the early days we
are writing of, writhing under the infliction of having slowly and
painstakingly to work the solemn injunction--

    "When this you see remember me
      And keep me in your mind,
    And be not like a weathercock
      That turns at every wind.

    When I am dead and laid in grave,
      And all my bones are rotten,
    By this you may remember me
      When I should be forgotten."

And we can appreciate how little Maggie Tulliver ("The Mill on the Floss")
must have girded at the philosophy she was compelled to work into her

    "Look well to what you take in hand,
      For learning is better than house or land;
    When land is gone and money is spent
      Then learning is most excellent."

With the eighteenth century the beauty of the Samplers distinctly
declined. They became squarer, and were bordered with a running pattern,
and the whole canvas became more or less pictorial. Inevitably the end
of this art came. Ugly realistic bowpots with stumpy trees decorated the
picture in regular order. The alphabet still appeared, and moral
reflection seemed to be the aim of the worker rather than to make the
Sampler show beauty of stitchery. Quaint little maps of England are
often seen, surrounded with floral borders, but it remained to the early
nineteenth century to show how the Sampler became reduced to absurdity.
One of the quaintest and most amusing Samplers at South Kensington is a
12-inch by 8-inch example in woollen canvas and embroidered with
coloured silk. At the lower end is a soldier, a tiny realistic house, a
dovecot, any number of flowering plants, a stag and other animals. Above
is a band of worked embroidery enclosing the words, "This is my dear
Father." The remaining spaces are filled in with angels blowing
trumpets, double-headed eagle, peacocks and other birds, and baskets of
fruit. In spite of its absurdity, this little piece is far more
pleasant than the tombstone inscriptions which abound, and is, after
all, delightfully suggestive of home and affection.


(_S.K.M. Collection._)]


(_S.K.M. Collection._)]

Another quaint piece at South Kensington is a sampler worked by poor
Harriet Taylor, _aged seven!_ At the top are four flying angels, two in
clouds flanking a crown beneath the letters "G. R." In the middle stands
a flower-wreathed arch, with columns holding vases of flowering plants;
above are the words, "The Temple of Fancy," and within an enclosed space
the following homily:

    "Not Land but Learning
      Makes a man complete
    Not Birth but Breeding
      Makes him truly Great
    Not Wealth but Wisdom
      Does adorn the State
    Virtue not Honor
      Makes him Fortunate
    Learning, Breeding, Wisdom
      Get these three
    Then Wealth and Honor
      Will attend on thee."

Then follows a house called "The Queen's Palace," standing in an
enclosed flower-garden. This masterpiece of moral philosophy from the
hands of a child of seven years is dated 1813.

An exaggerated conception of the value of old Samplers is very widely
spread. Only the seventeenth-century Samplers are really of consequence,
and these fetch fancy prices. In the sale-rooms a long narrow Sampler
of lace stitches and drawn-thread work would bring as much as a
handsome piece of lace. They are practically unattainable, and in this
case the law of supply and demand does not obtain. It is beyond the
needlewomen of the present day to imitate these old Samplers. Life is
too short, and demands upon time are so many and varied, that a lifetime
of work would result in making only one. Therefore, the fortunate owners
of these seventeenth-century Samplers may cherish their possessions, and
those less lucky possess their souls in patience, and hoard their golden
guineas in the hope of securing one. Twenty years ago a few pounds would
have been ample to secure a fine specimen, but £30 will now secure only
a short fragment.

During the last three years I have not seen a good Sampler at any London
Curio or lace shop, and none appear in the sale-rooms. The
eighteenth-century Samplers are comparatively common, the map variety
especially so, and can be purchased for a pound or so, but these are not
desirable to the collector.




(_S.K.M. Collection._)]



     Queen Mary "a born needlewoman"--The Hampton Court
     Embroideries--Revival of petit point--Jacobean hangings.

One of the most convincing facts in arguments that there _is_ a revival
in the gentle art of needlecraft is that it has become the fashion to
drape our windows, cover our furniture, and panel our walls with printed
copies of the Old Jacobean needlework. Many people, knowing nothing
whatever about the history of needlework, wonder where the designs for
the printed linens which line the windows of Messrs. Liberty, Goodall
and Burnett's colossal frontages in Regent Street have been found. In
time amazement gives way to admiration for these quaint blues and
greens, roses and pale yellows, worked in great scrolls with exotic
flowers and still more exotic birds, and the funny little hillocks with
delightful little pagoda-like cottages nestling amongst them, and many
and various little animals which seem to keep perpetual holiday under
the everlasting blooms. The designs are taken bodily from the
historical hangings of the later seventeenth century. After the
abdication and flight of James II. to St. Germains, his daughter Mary
came over with her Dutch husband, William the Stadtholder--or, rather,
William came over and brought his wife, the daughter of the late king,
for William had no intention of assuming the style and life of Prince
Consort, but came well to the front, and kept there. It was not
"VICTORIA _and Albert_" in those days, but WILLIAM and MARY, who ruled
England, and ruled it well. William III. must have been a man of strong
personality, and he managed to quell all the rebellions of his reign,
and during the time he ruled over us the country settled down to a
peaceful state that has remained to the present time.

Queen Mary had quite sufficient employment in settling herself and her
household, and generally managing the domestic matters pertaining to the
new kingdom she had come into. She apparently had a very free hand in
rebuilding Hampton Court, which she particularly made her home,
absolutely pulling the interior down, and rebuilding and redecorating it
according to her own taste, which was not that of the Stuart persuasion
with its gorgeous magnificence, but the more homely and solid Dutch.
Very little of the original Hampton Court _interior_, built and
furnished by Cardinal Wolsey, exists. Just here and there we find
delightfully dark little dens with the original linen-fold panellings
and ceilings that are a ravishment to look upon; but mostly the rooms
are high, plain-panelled, and with the quaint ingle-nook fireplaces,
with shelves above, upon which Mary placed her lovely "blue and white"
porcelain which had been brought to her by the Dutch merchants who at
that time were the great traders of the sea.


(_S.K.M. Collection._)]

Queen Mary ought to be regarded as the patron saint of English
needlewomen. She was happiest when employed furnishing every
bed-covering, every chair and stool, and supplying the hangings for her
favourite home. It is said that she spent her days over her embroidery
frame, knowing full well that affairs of State were in the capable hands
of her husband.

There are few relics left of her handiwork outside Hampton Court. She
left no dainty little book-covers, bags, or boxes, as her ideas were
fixed on larger pieces of embroidery. Had she lived in the Berlin-wool
picture days, she would have filled every nook and cranny with these
atrocities, as many humbler devotees to the needle have done to our own
knowledge. Needlework can become a _passion_, and certainly Queen Mary
must have possessed it.

After the complete collapse of the Stuart stump pictures, when every
vestige of loyalty seems to have been swept away with the hated James
II., the ancient Petit Point pictures came back into fashion. Very
clever work was put into them, but, alas! their scope was purely to
depict religious scenes of the rigorous kind. No dainty fairy-like
little people now ruled in pictured story, but actual representations of
Bible history.

The illustration of "The Baptism of the Ethiopian Eunuch by St. Philip"
is a fair sample of the needlework picture of this time. The picture is
a strange mixture of the early Stuart Petit Point, the Jacobean
wall-hanging, and the newly revived religious spirit. The duck-pond, the
swans and the water-plants might have been copied bodily from James I.'s
time. The paroquet and the flying bird, and the immense leaves and
blossoms, are direct from the wall-hangings, while the figures only too
surely foretell the coming dark days of needlecraft, when a Scripture
picture and a coarsely worked sampler were part of every girl's liberal
education. The work in this picture is extremely good, and it is
excruciatingly funny without intending to be so. The pretty little
equipage with its diminutive ponies surely was never intended to carry
either St. Philip or the Eunuch! The open book, with Hebraic
inscription, is very delightful. It brings to mind the Tables of the Law
rather than the light reading that the charming little Cinderella coach
should carry.

These pictures are not common, and we scarcely know whether to be
thankful for them or not. Unlike the early petit point, they were worked
in _worsteds_, whereas the early pictures were wrought in silk. The moth
has a natural affinity for wool, as we all know, and his tribe has
cleared off many hundreds of examples. Why so many of the old Jacobean
hangings remain is that they were worked for _use_, and not ornament,
and even after they ceased to be fashionable ornaments for sitting and
bed rooms, they were either relegated to the servants' quarters, or
given to dependants, who used them constantly, shaking and keeping
them in repair, as the eighteenth-century housewives liked to keep their
homes swept and garnished.


(_S.K.M. Collection._)]

It is strange to see these old Jacobean hangings (perhaps the drapery of
the now tabooed four-post bedstead), which might some thirty years ago
have been carried off for the asking, sell at Christie's for £800, as
happened in the dispersal of the Massey-Mainwaring sale last year. Even
a panel of no use except to frame as a picture, say 4 feet by 3 feet,
will fetch £30 and a full-sized bed-cover can only be bought for over
£100. The reason is not far to seek. The colouring and the drawing of
this fine old Crewel-work are exquisite (even though the design savours
of the grotesque), and Time has dealt very leniently with the dyes. I
endeavoured to match some of these old worsteds a little time ago, and
though able to find the colours, could not get the tone. After much
tribulation I was advised to hang the skeins of worsted on the trees in
the garden and _forget all about them_, and certainly wind and weather
have softened the somewhat garish worsteds to the soft, _fade_ colours
of the old work.

The same class of embroidery was executed during the reign of Queen
Anne, though she herself did little of it. Costly silks and brocades and
Venetian laces were the dress of the day, and no little dainty
accessories appear to have been made.




(_Author's Collection._)]



     The "painted faces" period--Method of production--Revival of
     Scriptural "motifs"--Modern fakes--Black silk and hair copies
     of engravings.

An immense number of pictures must have been worked during the
eighteenth century. Almost, we might say, no English home is without an
example. Much of the work is intensely bad, and only that Time has
tenderly softened the colours, and the old-time dresses add an element
of quaintness to the pictures, can they be tolerated. Works of art they
are not, and, indeed, were never intended to occupy the place their
owners now proudly claim for them. Just here and there a picture of the
painted face type is a masterpiece of stitchery, as in the example
illustrated, where every thread has been worked by an _artiste_. Looking
at this little gem across a room, the effect is that of a charming old
colour print, so tenderly are the lines of shading depicted. This is the
only picture of this class that I have seen for years as an absolutely
perfect specimen of the eighteenth-century silk pictures, though
doubtless many exist.

The discrepancy which is usually found is that, although the design and
outline is perfect, the faces and hands exquisitely painted, the
needlework part of the picture has been executed in a foolish,
inartistic manner, and no method of light and shade has been observed.
Some little time ago I published an article in one of the popular
monthly Magazines illustrating this same picture, and was afterwards
inundated with letters from correspondents from far and near sending
their pictures for valuation and--admiration! Not one of these pictures
was good, though there were varying degrees of _badness_. But in no
instance was the painted face crudely drawn or badly coloured.

The explanation is that just as the modern needlewoman goes to a
Needlework Depôt and obtains pieces of embroidery already commenced and
the design of the whole drawn ready for completion, so these old needle
pictures were sold ready for embroidering, the outline of the trees
sketched in fine sepia lines, the distant landscape already painted, the
faces and hands of the figures charmingly coloured, in many instances by
first-class artists. When we remember that the eighteenth century was
_par excellence_ the great period of English portrait painting and
colour printing, we can understand that possibly really fine artists
were willing to paint these exquisite faces on fine silk and satin, just
as good artists of the present day often paint "pot-boilers" while
waiting for fame.


Eighteenth Century.

(_S.K.M. Collection._)]

Angelica Kauffmann's style was often copied. Is it too much to believe
that some of these charming faces may have been from her hands? We know
that she painted furniture and china, therefore why not the faces of the
needlework pictures so nearly akin to her own work?

The eighteenth-century costume was particularly adapted to this pretty
work. We cannot imagine the voluminous robes of Queen Mary or Queen Anne
in needle-stitchery, but the soft, silky lawns of the Georgian periods,
the high-waisted bodices, the _bouffant_ fichus and the flowing
head-dresses, all were specially easy and graceful to work. Many of the
pretty children Sir Joshua loved to paint were copied. "Innocence" made
a charming picture, and several of the less rustic Morland pictures were

We would imagine that when the beginnings of the picture were so
glorious the needlewoman would have made some endeavour to work up to
it. But, alas! it was not so. Though often the stitching is neat and
small, not an idea of shading seems to have entered the worker's mind,
and whole spaces, nay, a complete garment, are often worked solid in one
tone of colour! On the whole there is far more artistic sense and
feeling in the Stump pictures it is the fashion to deride.

Not always were dainty pastoral and domestic scenes worked. Very ghastly
creations are still existent of scriptural subjects. Coarsely worked in
wool, instead of silk, or in a mixture of both. The painting is still
good, but the work and the subjects are execrable! "Abraham about to
sacrifice Isaac," on the pile of faggots already laid, and Isaac bound
on it, with a very woolly lamb standing ready as a substitute, was a
favourite subject. "Abraham dismissing Hagar and Ishmael," with a
malignant-looking Sarah in the distance, vies with the former in
popularity. "The Woman of Samaria," and "The Entombment," are another
pair of unpleasant pictures which we are often called upon to admire.

The best of these pictures were worked in fine floss silk, not quite
like the floss silk of to-day, as it had more twist and body in it, with
just a little fine chenille, and very tiny bits of silver thread to
heighten the effect. The worst were worked in _crewel_ wools of crude
colours. Fortunately, the moth has a special predilection for these
pictures, and they are slowly being eaten out of existence, in spite of
being cherished as heirlooms and works of art.

Another pretty style which we seldom meet with was some part of the
picture covered with the almost obsolete "ærophane," a kind of chiffon
or crape which was much in request even up to fifty years ago. A certain
part of the draperies was worked on the silk ground, without any attempt
at finish. This was covered with ærophane, and outlined so as to attach
it to the figure. This again was worked upon with very happy effects,
very fine darning stitches making the requisite depth of shading. The
illustration shows the use of this, but this cannot be said to be a very
good specimen.


Eighteenth Century.

(_Author's Collection._)]

These painted face, silk-worked pictures are the only needlework
examples the collector _need to beware of_, as they are being reproduced
by the score. The method of working in the poorer specimens is very
simple, and it pays the "faker" to sell for £2 or £3 what takes,
perhaps, only half a day to produce. When a well-executed picture is
produced it is worth money, but so far I have seen none, except at the
Royal School of Needlework, where the copying of old pictures of the
period is exceedingly well done, and not intended to deceive. The
prices, however, are almost prohibitive, as no modern needlework picture
is worth from £15 to £30. They are, after all, only copies, and in no
sense of the word works of art.

During the eighteenth century, also, a fashion set in of adorning
engravings with pieces of cloth, silk, and tinsel. At best it was a
stupid fancy, and was responsible for the destruction of many fine old
mezzotints and coloured prints. The hands, face, and background of an
engraving were cut out, and pasted on a sheet of cardboard, pieces of
some favourite brocaded gown, perhaps, were attached to the neck and
shoulders, tiny lace tuckers were inserted, and gorgeous jewellery was
simulated by wretched bits of tinsel trimming. The realism of the Stuart
stump picture was never so atrocious as this baleful invention, which
was as meretricious as a waxwork show.

Not so popular, but far better, were the pictures worked on white silk
with black silk and hair. There were no artistic aspirations about
these--they were copies in black and white of the engravings of the
day, just as a pen-and-ink or pencil copy might be made. Very dainty
stitchery was put in them, the stronger parts of the lines being in fine
black silk, the finer and more distant being worked in human hair of
various shades from black to brown. Occasionally golden and even white
hair is used, and the effect is often that of a faded engraving. The
silk ground on which these little pictures were worked is, however,
often cracked with age, and many pretty specimens are ruined. The
illustration shows an example of the type of picture, and depicts
"Charlotte weeping over the Tomb of Werther."


Imitation of Engraving. Eighteenth Century.

(_Author's Collection._)]





     Entire decline of needlework as an art--Miss Linwood's
     invention!--The Berlin-wool pictures--Lack of efficient
     instruction--Waste of magnificent opportunity at South
     Kensington Museum.

It were kindest to ignore 19th century needlework, but in a book
treating of English embroidery something must be said to bridge over the
time when Needlecraft as an Art was _dead_. During the earlier part of
the century taste was bad, during the middle it was beyond criticism,
and from then to the time of the "greenery-yallery" æsthetic revival all
and everything made by woman's fingers ought to be buried, burnt, or
otherwise destroyed. Indeed, if that drastic process could be carried
out from the time good Queen Adelaide reigned to the early "eighties" we
might not, now and ever, have to bow our heads in utter abjection.

The originator and moving spirit of this bad period was Miss Linwood,
who conceived the idea of copying oil paintings in woolwork. She died
in 1845. Would that she had never been born! When we think of the many
years which English women have spent over those wickedly hideous
Berlin-wool pictures, working their bad drawing and vilely crude colours
into those awful canvases, and imagining that they were earning undying
fame as notable women for all the succeeding ages, death was too good
for Miss Linwood. The usual boiling oil would have been a fitter end!
Miss Linwood made a great _furore_ at the time of her invention, and
held an exhibition in the rooms now occupied by Messrs. Puttick &
Simpson, Leicester Square. Can we not imagine the shade of the great Sir
Joshua Reynolds, whose home and studio these rooms had been, revisiting
the glimpses of the moon, and while wandering up and down that famous
old staircase forsaking his home for ever after one horrified glance at
Miss Linwood's invention?

Not only Miss Linwood, but Mrs. Delany and Miss Knowles made themselves
famous for Berlin-wool pictures. The kindest thing to say is that the
specimens which are supposed to have been worked by their own hands are
considerably better than those of the half-dozen generations of their
followers. During the middle and succeeding twenty years of the
nineteenth century the notable housewife of every class amused herself,
at the expense of her mind, by working cross-stitch pictures with
crudely coloured wools (royal blue and rose-pink, magenta,
emerald-green, and deep crimson were supposed to represent the actual
colours of Nature), on very coarse canvas. Landseer's paintings were
favourite studies, "Bolton Abbey in the Olden Times" lending itself to a
choice range of violent colours and striking incidents. Nothing was too
sacred for the Berlin-wool worker to lay hands upon. "The Crucifixion,"
"The Nativity," "The Flight into Egypt," "The Holy Family" were not only
supposed to show the skill of the worker, but also the proper frame of
mind the embroideress possessed. Pleasing little horrors such as the
"Head of the Saviour in His Agony," and that of the Virgin with all her
tortured mother love in her eyes were considered fit ornaments for
drawing-room, which by the way were also adorned with wool and cotton
crochet antimacassars, waxwork flowers under glass, and often
astonishingly good specimens of fine Chelsea, Worcester, and Oriental

Never was the questions of how "having eyes and yet seeing not" more
fully exemplified. The nation abounded in paintings, prints, fine
needlework, and the product of our greatest period of porcelain
manufacture. Fine examples were at hand everywhere. Exquisite prints
belonging to our only good period, the eighteenth century, were common;
yet rather than try their skill in copying these, the needlewomen, who
possessed undoubted skill, enthusiasm, and infinite patience, preferred
to copy realistic paintings of the Landseer school and the highly
coloured prints of the Baxter and Le Blond period.

Unfortunately, the craze is by no means buried. Within the last twelve
months I was invited to see the "works" of a wonderful needlewoman in a
little Middlesex village. The local clergyman and doctor were
sufficiently benighted even in these days of universal culture to admire
her work, and her fame had spread. Room after room was filled with 10 by
8-feet canvases; every drawer in the house was crammed with the result
of this clever woman's work--for clever she undoubtedly was. After
exhausting all the known subjects of Landseer and his school, she had
struck out a line for herself, and had copied the _Graphic_ and
_Illustrated London News_ Supplements of the stirring scenes from the
South African War, such as "The Siege of Ladysmith," "The Death of the
Prince Imperial" in all its gruesome local colouring, were worked on
gigantic canvases. Her great _chef d'oeuvre_ was, however, the
memorial statue of Queen Victoria, copied from the _Graphic_ Supplement
_in tones of black, white, and grey_, a most clever piece of work;
but--well, she was happy and more than delighted with my perfectly
honest remark that I had _never seen anything like it_!

Ah! if only this dear woman and the many others who are wasting their
time and eyesight over fashions which perish could only be reached and
aroused by the influence of the lovely old English stitchery of our
great period! If only the purblind authorities and custodians of our
National collections could awaken to the infinite possibilities which
they hold, once again "Opus Anglicum" might rule the world, and the
labour of even one woman's life might be of lasting value. It is useless
to refer to the many schools of embroidery there are in different parts
of the country, where fine work is being done on the best lines. These
schools, from the Royal School of Needlework downwards, are "closed
corners," and no attempt is made to reach the great public. The Royal
School of Needlework is maintained by no subsidy as it ought to be, but
by the many ladies of position and taste who liberally support it, both
for the instruction and employment of "ladies of reduced circumstances,"
and for _the disposal of its work at very high prices_. Other schools in
town are simply private adventure institutions, run at a considerable
profit to the principals.

The superb collection at South Kensington might as well be buried in the
crypt of Westminster Cathedral for all the value it is to the general
public. There is not the slightest attempt to allow these unique pieces
of "Opus Anglicum" to point a moral or adorn a tale. The magnificent
copes and vestments, of which there are some score, are merely
tabulated, paragraphed, and photographed, and there is an end of them.
During my constant visits to these treasures of English Art I have not
once discovered another interested visitor amongst these beautiful
vestments; and the officials, when interviewed, though perfectly
courteous, apparently resent inquiries; and woe betide the unfortunate
inquirers who _might_ have found the required information from the tiny
little printed card hidden either too low or too high in the dark
recesses of the corridors, and so spared these _savants_ the trouble of
an interview!

Why a continuous course of lectures on this and every kindred Art
subject is not made compulsory at the Victoria and Albert Museum is one
of the burning questions of the hour among the cultured collectors of
the day. The custodians are supposed to be men of special insight in the
branches over which they preside, yet for all the advantage to the
public they might as well be waxwork dummies. What we want as a nation
is "culture while we wait," and writ so large that those who run may
read, and until this consummation is attained we shall ever remain in
the Slough of Despond, and Art for Art's sake will continue dead.





     Early Greek garments--Biblical references to
     embroidery--Ecclesiastical garments--Eighteenth-century
     dresses, coats, and waistcoats--Muslin embroideries.

The subject of Costume has been most admirably treated in another volume
of this series, but a reference must be made to it as affecting our
topic, English Embroidery, as costume has played no little part in its

From the earliest ages embroidery has been used to decorate garments.
The ancient Greeks embroidered the hems of their graceful draperies in
the well-known Greek fret and other designs so invariably seen on the
old Greek vases. The legend that Minerva herself taught the Greeks the
art of embroidery illustrates how deeply the art was understood; and the
pretty story told by an old botanist of how the foxglove came by its
name and its curious bell-like flowers is worth repeating. In the old
Greek days, when gods and goddesses were regarded as having the
attributes of humanity in addition to those of deities, Juno was one
day amusing herself with making tapestry, and, after the manner of the
people, put a thimble on her finger. Jupiter, "playing the rogue with
her," took her thimble and threw it away, and down it dropped to the
earth. The goddess was very wroth, and in order to pacify her Jupiter
turned the thimble into a flower, which now is known as Digitalis, or

This little fairy tale can scarcely be taken as proof conclusive of the
existence of either needle tapestry or thimble use, but its telling may
amuse the reader.

In all ancient histories we find continuous references to the
embroidered garment worn by its people. It was well recognised that no
material was sufficiently beautiful not to be further embellished with
rich embroideries. In the Psalms we find that "Pharaoh's daughter shall
be brought to the king in a raiment of needlework," and that "her
clothing is of wrought gold."

Phrygia was above all the country most noted for embroideries of gold,
and for many years the name "Phrygian embroidery" was sufficient to
describe any highly decorated specimen. It is said that the name of the
vestment or trimming, the "orphry" is derived from the word
"Auri-phrygium," meaning "gold of Phrygian embroidery."

The Phrygians are credited with having taught the Egyptians the art,
while the Hebrews, while sojourning in the land of Egypt, learned the
art from their captors, and carried it with them all through their
journeys to the Promised Land, and their final settlement in Palestine.
The mention of gold and purple embroideries, both as garments and
hangings, is conspicuous throughout all Bible history. The Egyptian and
Greek arts are in almost all respects concurrent. The Phoenicians
carried examples of each country's work from one to another. After the
conquest of Greece the Romans absorbed her art, and developed it in
their own special style. They in turn carried their arts and crafts to
Gaul and Britain, and by degrees needlecraft permeated the whole of

Dealing with the embroidered costumes of our own country, the ancient
records, illuminated Missals, and other contemporary data show that very
sumptuous were both the ecclesiastical and lay garments. Heavy gold
embroideries were worked on the hems of skirts and mantles. The Kings'
coronation robes and mantles were beautiful specimens of handicraft,
often after a king's death being given to the churches for vestments.
From Anglo-Saxon to Norman times extensive use was made of the work of
the needle for clothing, but after the Conquest till quite late in the
Tudor period little has been found to throw light upon the use of
embroidery for the lay dress of the time. All woman's taste and energy
seem to have been devoted to make monumental embroideries for church

It was, indeed, not until the gorgeous period of Henry VIII. that
embroidery, as distinct from garment-making, appeared; and then
everything became an object worthy of decoration. Much fine stitchery
was put into the fine white undergarments of that time, and the
overdresses of both men and women became stiff with gold thread and
jewels. Much use was made of slashing and quilting, the point of
junction being dotted with pearls and precious stones. Noble ladies wore
dresses heavily and richly embroidered with gold, and the train was so
weighty that train-bearers were pressed into service. In the old
paintings the horses belonging to kings and nobles wear trappings of
heavily embroidered gold. Even the hounds who are frequently represented
with their masters have collars massively decorated with gold bullion.

The skirts of the ladies of this time were thickly encrusted with
jewels, folds of silk being crossed in a kind of lattice-work, each
crossing being fixed with a pearl or jewel, and a similar precious stone
being inserted in the square formed by the trellis. The long stomachers
were one gleaming mass of jewelled embroidery, the tiny caps or
headdresses being likewise heavily studded with gems.

During the reign of Charles I. a much daintier style of dress appeared.
Velvet and silken suits were worn by the men, handsomely but
appropriately trimmed with the fine "punto in aria" or Reticella laces
of Venice; and in this and the three succeeding reigns dress was of
sumptuous velvets, satins, and heavy silks, unembroidered, but trimmed,
and in Charles II.'s time _loaded_ with costly laces. It will be noted
that whenever lace is in the ascendant, embroidery suffers, as is
quite natural. Lace itself is sufficient adornment for fine raiment.

[Illustration: _Photo by E. Gray, Bayswater._


(_Dulwich Gallery._)]

As the use of the fine Venetian and Flemish and French laces declined,
and tuckers and frillings of Mechlin, Valenciennes, and Point
d'Angleterre appeared, the use of embroidery asserted itself, and the
pretty satins and daintily coloured silks of William and Mary, Queen
Anne, and more specially the earlier Georges, began to be embroidered in
a specially delicate fashion. Fine floss silk was used in soft
colourings, and whole surfaces were covered with tiny embroidered sprays
of natural-coloured flowers. Really exquisite stitchery was put into the
graceful honeysuckle, the pansy, carnation, and rose clusters which
decorated the dresses. The bodices, sacques, and skirts of the early
eighteenth-century ladies were embroidered with real artistic taste and
feeling. Some of the old dresses kept at South Kensington show the
exquisite specimens of this class of needlework; while the coats and
waistcoats of the sterner sex are not a whit behind the feminine
garments in beauty. The long waistcoats were most frequently made of
cream, pale blue, or white silk or satin, delightfully embroidered with
tiny sprays of blossoms, and fastened with fine old paste buttons; while
the coat, frequently of brocade, was heavily embroidered down the front
with three or four inches of solid embroidery of foliage and flowers,
oftentimes mixed with gold and silver threads. The tiny cravat of
Mechlin, cuff ruffles, knee breeches, silken hose, and buckled shoes,
along with the powdered hair, complete a costume that has never been
equalled, either before or afterwards, in beauty, grace, and elegance.
During the William IV. and the long Victorian period, with the exception
of a very fine embroidery on muslin, in the earlier part of it, nothing
but fine stitchery for the use of underwear was made, if we except the
hundreds and thousands of yards of cut and buttonholed linen which
seemed to have been the solace and delight of our grandmothers when they
allowed themselves to be torn away from their beloved Berlin-wool work.
To sit on a cushion and sew a fine seam appears to have been the
amusement of the properly constituted women of the early and
mid-nineteenth century.





Ancient embroideries so seldom come into the salerooms that it is rarely
an opportunity occurs for obtaining market prices, therefore Lady
Wolseley's sale on July 12, 1906, must be accepted as a standard.
Immense prices are asked at the antique shops, the dealers apparently
basing their prices on this sale by auction and _doubling_ them. I have
visited every shop in the trade in search of prices for this book before
procuring the auctioneer's catalogue, and was aghast at the terrific
sums asked for oftentimes indifferent specimens in comparison to what
was paid in the auction-room. During the past year anything from £15
15s. to £40 has been paid at Christie's for specimens of varying degrees
of perfection of work and condition. The latter state is even of greater
importance than the first, as no matter how good the work originally, if
discoloured and frayed, prices go down and down. Nearly all the finest
specimens of the Stump-work period are marred by the tarnishing of the
gold and silver threads. Instead of these being a glory and a great
enhancement to the embroidery, they prove a great disfigurement, and
thereby cause a considerable reduction in value.

The earlier petit point pictures, having little or no bullion in their
execution (and when cared for and not exposed to too much sunlight),
have kept their condition very well, and now are quite the favourite
kind for collection. It speaks much for the quality of the silks used
and the dyes of nearly three hundred years ago that the fugitive greens
and blues and delicate roses in these little works of art, as in the
superb tapestries of the same date, should be as fine as when made,
whereas to-day's colours are as fleeting as the glories of the rainbow.

       *       *       *       *       *

The following are the principal prices in Lady Wolseley's sale:

                                                £  s. d.

A small bag, red and gold brocade               2 15  0

A small bag or purse                            5  0  0

A fine bead book-cover                          6  0  0

Same, trimmed with silver lace (Harris)         6 16  0

A pair of embroidered shoes (Harris)            6  0  0

A small pocket-book, silk embroidery on
silver ground                                   8 17  6

A pair of Stuart shoes                          9 19  6

A stumpwork picture, a most curious globe,
showing Europe, Asia, Africa, and America,
1648 (S. G. Fenton)                            24  0  0

A double book of Psalms, embroidered binding
with Tudor rose                                23 10  0

A petit point picture, 12-1/2 × 9-1/2          11 11  0

A small picture, partly sketched and partly
worked                                          4 14  6

A Stuart stump picture, 18 × 15-1/2            18 18  0

A Stuart stump picture, King under canopy,
17-1/2 × 14                                    14 14  6

A Stuart bullion picture, vase, in
tortoiseshell frame, 23 × 18                    8  8  0

Same, with Herodias's daughter and John the
Baptist                                         5  5  0

A portrait of Henry, Prince of Wales, in
flat-stitch on rose satin                      21  0  0

Another on satin, "Bathsheba," spangled,
17 × 13                                         6 16  0

Another on satin, birds on gold and silver,
13 × 13 (Harris)                               13 13  6

A bead picture, 15 × 11                        11 11  0

A stump and bead picture, 12 × 11              12  1  6

A small book-cover, 14 × 8                     13 12  0

A Stuart stump picture, figures and silver
fountain, tortoiseshell frame, 22 × 16         15 15  0

A stump picture, lady with coral necklace,
18 × 12                                        23 10  0

A stump picture, lady under arch with a
black swan, 20 × 16 (Stoner)                   34  0  0

A stump picture, King Charles as Ahasuerus
with Haman and Mordecai, and pearl-embroidered
carpet, 23 × 17                                28  0  0

A stump picture, lady under a canopy, large
pearls, 13 × 19, (Stoner)                      34  0  0

A Stuart Petit Point picture, Abraham and
Hagar                                          16 16  0

A Stuart petit point picture, "Judgment of
Paris," 24 × 17                                25  0  0

A Stuart petit point picture, King Solomon
and Queen of Sheba                             18 18  0

A beadwork picture, lady and gentleman, lion
and unicorn, 21 × 17                           12 12  6

An embroidered picture, "Peter denying
Christ," 24 × 17 (S. G. Fenton)                 9 19  6

A petit point picture, lake with boats and
figures, 15 × 12 (Harris)                      14 14  6

A large stump picture, with horse and rider
and figures of four seasons                    30 10  0

A stumpwork picture, four figures, castle
and birds and flowers (S. G. Fenton)           33  0  0

A picture sketched on white satin, not worked   4 15  0

A Stuart picture on canvas                      9 19  6

A fine Stuart jewel-casket, numerous secret
drawers, covered in needlework (S. G. Fenton)  47  5  0

A Stuart box, covered with bullion-work
(S. G. Fenton)                                 12 12  0

A Stuart box, with embroidery and pearls
(Spero)                                        16 16  0

A Stuart box, coloured bullion, 10 × 6          9  9  0

An embroidered box, with portrait on lid
(S. G. Fenton)                                 53 11  0

A Stuart mirror, covered with stump
embroidery, representing Charles I. and his
Queen (illustrated), (Rosthron)               102 18  0

Another mirror, with painted and embroidered
figures (Harris)                               34  0  0

A Charles I. mirror in old lace and gold
frame, with borders in embroidery, with
portrait, castle, and floral decoration        40  0  0

3 yds. 13 inches long, 12 inches deep,
Cornice in Petit Point, Christie's,
July, 1908 (Harris)                           204 15  0





Needlework as a national art is as dead as the proverbial door-nail;
whether or not it ever regains its position as a craft is a matter of
conjecture. Personally, I incline to the belief that it is absolutely
extinct. The death-knell rang for all time when the sewing-machine was
invented. The machine has been a very doubtful blessing, as it has
allowed even the art of stitchery in ordinary work to slide into the
limbo of forgotten things. What woman now knows what it is to
"back-stitch" a shirt cuff, for instance, drawing a thread for guidance,
and carefully going back two or three threads in order to make a neat,
firm line of stitching? The sewing-machine does all this, and _does_ it
_well_, a clever machinist turning out more work in a week than a
seamstress in a year. If this were all, it would be no matter for
regret, but with the necessity for needlework has vanished the desire.
The lady quoted in Green's History is now non-existent. "She was a
pattern of sobriety unto many, very seldom seen abroad except at
church; when others recreated themselves at holidays and other times,
she would take her needlework, and say, 'Here is my recreation.'"

In spite of the many Schools of Embroidery, with a few notable
exceptions, nothing is done to raise the standard of embroidery above
making miserable little cushion-covers, table-centres, and suchlike
pretty fripperies for the temporary adornment of the house. The women of
Germany, Holland, Sweden, Italy, on the contrary, take a great interest
in the embroidery of the bed and table linen and the really artistic
embroidery of their national costumes. Nothing of this is seen in
England. Table linen is bought _ready hemmed_ at the shop. Dainty
tea-cloths and serviettes are purchased ready embroidered (by machine)
and trimmed with machine-made lace. Even _lingerie_ of all classes is
machine-made and bought by the dozen, instead of being made by the
daughters of the house.

The only hope of a revival lies in the various Art schools in the
country where designing for fine embroidery and lace is encouraged.
Unfortunately, however, equal facilities are offered for designing of
machine-made imitations. The Royal School of Needlework, not being a
Government institution, offers no encouragement to outsiders. It is in
the hands of a number of ladies, who manage it as they will; and
although very fine work is accomplished, they trust too much to modern
designers and artists who work out their own pet theories and hobbies.
If only they would put aside all theories and new ideas, and _go back_
to the best periods of English art both for their designs and execution,
even yet, with the intelligent use of the glorious examples in the
adjoining Museum, much might be done to revivify this expiring art.




OLD LACE. (_For Needlework see page 384_)


Adelaide, Queen, 116

Age of lace, 108, 191

Alençon lace, 29, 78, 183, 191

Argentan lace, 29, 78, 191

Argentella lace, 29, 81, 192

Anne, Queen, 157

Appliqué, 175

Aylesbury, 158


Baby lace, 157

Barri, Madame du, 90

Beading, 41

Beads on bobbins, 161

Bed furnishing, 73

Bedfordshire lace, 37, 157

Belgian lace, 37

Black lace, 94

Blonde lace, 94

Bone lace, 41

Bobbins, 41, 158

Bolckow, Mrs., 54

Brides, 38, 127

Brussels lace, 37, 81, 104, 108, 123, 195

Brussels appliqué, 123

Brussels Vrai Reseau, 111

Buckinghamshire lace, 30, 35, 157, 158, 161

Burano, 54, 81

Buttonhole stitch, 195


Caen lace, 97

Carrick-ma-cross, 175

Catherine de Medici, 73

Chantilly lace, 37, 93

Charles I., 148

Charles II., 104, 148, 151

Charlotte, Queen, 161

Christie's sale-room, 115, 201

Colbert, 29, 73, 77, 102

Collar lace, 61

Collar, Medici, 53

Commonwealth, 148

Cordonnet, 41, 53, 77

Convents, 26

Coptic embroideries, 21

Couronnes, 41

Cravat, 151

Creevy Papers, 115

Cromwell, 151

Crotchet, 175

Cut worke, 73, 187

Cuthbert, St., 22


Danish lace, 134

Darned netting, 173

Debenham & Storr's sale-room, 54, 200

Dentelé, 41

Devonshire lace, 30, 162

Dorsetshire lace, 161

Drawn work, 21

Duchesse lace, 127

Durham Cathedral, 22


Ecclesiastical lace, 62

Edgings, 31

Edward IV., 144

Egyptian netting, 22

Elizabeth, Queen of England, 54, 147

Embroidered net, 172

English laces, 157

Empress Eugénie, 97


Falling collar, 148

Fausse Valenciennes, 89

Fillings, 40, 173

"Figure" motifs, 107

Flanders lace, 29, 103

Flat point (point plat), 50

Flax thread, 61, 107

Florence, 53

Flemish point, 103

Fond, 42

Fontange, 151

Fowler, Mrs., of Honiton, 166

France, point de, 74

French Revolution, 78


Genoese lace, 29

George I., 115

George II., 115

George III., 115

George IV., 112

German laces, 134

Ghent laces, 124

Gingles, 161

Gold and silver laces, 134

Greek laces, 103, 183

Groppo, Punto a, 62

Gros, Point de Venise, 53

Grounds, 37

Guipure, 42, 61

Gold lace, 22


Hamilton lace, 171

"Hayward's," 114

Henry VII., 144

Henry VIII., 147

High Wycombe, 158

History of lace, 21

Honiton, 30, 35, 165

Honiton appliqué, 30

Huguenots, 30


Identification of lace, 183

Irish lace, 30, 172, 176, 192

Italian lace, 45


James I., 148

James II., 151

Jours, 41, 81


Kenmare, Lady, 75

King of Rome, 112


"Lacis," 29, 73

Lappets, 112

Lawn, 93

Lewis Hill, Mrs., 201

Lille, 35, 91

Limerick, 124, 172

L'Onray, 76

Louis XIV., 29, 46, 73, 74

Louis XV., 78

Lyme Regis, 162


Machine-made ground, 172

Macramé, 37, 64

Malines, 127

Maltese, 137

Mantillas, 97

Marie Antoinette, 78, 123, 129

Massey-Mainwaring, Mrs., 200

Marie de Medici, 53

Marie Stuart, 171

Mary, Queen, 147

Mary II., 151, 152

Mechlin, 37, 127

Medici collar, 53

Mezzo Punto, 62

Milanese lace, 29, 62

Mixed lace, 37, 62, 124

Modern point lace, 124

Montespan, Madame de, 74


Napoleon I., 78, 112

National Library, S.K.M., 50

Needlepoint lace, 49, 73, 108

Network, ancient, 3

Newport Pagnell, 158

Normandy lace, 97

Norway, 134

Northamptonshire lace, 157

Nuns, 26


Oeil de perdrix, 83, 192

Origin of lace, 21


Palliser, Mrs. Bury, 9

Parchment, 25

Parasole, 50

Pearls, 97

Peter the Great, 134

Picots, 42

Pillow lace, 29, 37

Point lace, 25, 37

Point à réseau, 53

Point d'Aiguille (Brussels), 108

Point d'Alençon, 76

Point d'Angleterre, 102, 107, 192

Point appliqué, 123

Point de France, 46, 76, 188

Point de Gaze, 108, 124

Point de Venise, 49

Point de Venise Gros, 50, 53, 54

Point de Neige, 49, 50

Point plat, 50

Punto in aria, 25, 143

Punto a groppo, 37, 62

Punto tagliato a foliami, 53


Quillings, 128

Quentin Matys, 103

Queen Anne, 157

Queen Mary II., 117, 127, 151

Queen Charlotte, 117, 128

Queen of Laces, 128

Queen Victoria, 116, 162


Raised stars, 49

Rose point, 49, 50

Renaissance, 53, 107, 188

Reseau, 36, 39

Reticella, 26, 50, 73, 103, 143, 188

Revolution, French, 78

Rococo, 78

Royal trousseaux, 81

Ruffles, 90

Russian lace, 134


St. Cuthbert, 22

Sale prices, 199

Samplers, 25, 187

Saxony lace, 134

Scotch lace, 171

Silk lace, 94

Smocks, 25

Spanish point, 133

Steinkirk, 151

Sumptuary law, 112

South Kensington Museum, 187


Tambour lace, 172

Tape lace, 62

Tatting, 175

Thread, 61

Toilé, 108

Trolly lace, 165


Valenciennes lace, 37, 89

Vandyke, 61, 148

Venice, 183

Vicellio, 50

Venetian lace, 50

Victoria, Queen, 162, 165

Vinciolo, 29, 50

Vraie Valenciennes, 89, 90


Westminster effigies, 147, 151, 152

William and Mary, 148, 151

"Wynyards," 115

William III., 115

Wiltshire lace, 115

Willis's Rooms, 201


Youghal laces, 176



Athelstan, 213

Alb, 238

Aldhelm, Bishop of Sherborne, 213

Aelfled, Queen of Edward the Elder, 213

Angelica Kauffmann, 339

Art, the pioneer, 209

Ascagni cope, 223

Ascoli cope, 233


Bags, Stuart, 261

Bayeux tapestry, 214

Beads, Venetian, 274

Berlin wool pictures, 350

Bishop Fridhestan, 213

Black work, 284

Bologna cope, 223

Book-covers, 279

Bridgettine nuns, 227


Catworth cushions, 233

Catherine of Aragon, 248, 251, 284

Caskets, 269

Chain stitch, 227

Charles I., 265, 273

Charles II., 265, 273

Chasubles, 241

Christie's sale-rooms, 257, 265, 270, 367

City palls, 237

Church vestments, 238

Coventry, 228

Copes, 241

Crewel work, 329


Daroca cope at Madrid, 223

Dr. Rock, 227


Earl of Shrewsbury, 228

Editha, Queen of Edward the Confessor, 213

Egyptian embroidery, 210

Emma, Queen of Ethelred the Unready, 213

Elizabeth's wardrobe, 249

Elizabeth's Book at British Museum, 283

Elizabeth's Book at the Bodleian Library, 283

Elizabeth Hinde's Sampler, 309

Elizabeth Mackett's Sampler, 311


Field of the Cloth of Gold, 249


Georgian costumes, 363

Georgian pictures, 335

Gimps, 249

Gloves, 262, 265

Greek garments, 359


Hampton Court, 250, 322

Hair and silk pictures, 343

Henrietta Maria, Queen, 265

Henry VIII., 247

Höchon collection, 220


Isleworth, 227

Italian raised work, 295


James I., 257

Jacobean hangings, 321

"Jesse" Cope, 223

John Taylor's Needlework Rhyme, 258


Lady Jane Grey, 247

"Laid," or couch work, 227

Linwood, Miss, 350


Maniple, 241

Mary Queen of Scots, 250

Mary II. embroidery, 325

Minerva, 358

Mirror frames, 273


Needlework pictures, 291, 335, 349

Neolithic remains, 210

"Nevil" altar-frontal, 234


Opus Anglicum, or Anglicanum, 219, 223


"Painted face" picture, 335, 343

Petit point, 257, 325

Phoenicians, 359

Phrygian embroidery, 358

Pierpont Morgan, 233

Pocket books, 281

Pope Innocent III., 223


Quilting, 287


Reformation, 246

Roman Invasion, 210

Royal School of Needlework, 353

Rock's "Church of Our Fathers," 220


Samplers, 307

St. Augustine, 210

St. Benedict, 220

St. Cuthbert, 213

St. Dunstan, 213

Steeple Aston altar-frontal, 234

Stoles, 238

Stump work, 295

Stump work symbols, 302

"Syon" cope, 223

Subjects of needle pictures, 295


Tambour stitch, 227

Tudor embroideries, 247

Trays, 270


Wonderful needlewoman, A, 351

Wolsey, Cardinal, 249, 250

Wolseley's, Lady, collection, 265, 273, 368

Worcester fragments, 219

_Printed in Great Britain by_

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Note:

Obvious punctuation errors have been corrected.

Inconsistent hyphenation in the original has been preserved, e.g.
cutwork, cut-work; hand-made, handmade; lace-workers, laceworkers;
may-flower, mayflower; needle-craft, needlecraft; needle-point,
needlepoint; salerooms, sale-rooms; semi-circular, semicircular.

Inconsistent use of accents has been preserved, e.g. applique, appliqué;
réseau, reseau; toile, toilé.

In the Index, Pierpoint was corrected to Pierpont to match the body of
the text.

The main body of the text refers to the "Hockon collection", which is
referred to in the index as the "Höchon collection". It is unclear which
of these is correct so they have been preserved as they appear in the

Page 25: 'survival of the fitting' changed to 'survival of the fittest'.

Page 38: 'accompanying diagrams' changed to 'accompanying diagram'.

Page 42: 'little loop' changed to 'little loops'.

Page 127: '"Duchesse point" of "Bruges,"' changed to '"Duchesse point"
or "Bruges,"'.

Page 192: 'of same period' changed to 'of the same period'.

Page 196: 'other two' changed to 'two other'.

Page 300: 'and rose of England' changed to 'and the rose of England'.

Page 303: 'and butterfly was' changed to 'and butterfly were'.

Page 315: 'a long narrow Samplers' changed to 'a long narrow Sampler'.

Page 383: 'Punto à groppo' changed to 'Punto a groppo'.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Chats on Old Lace and Needlework" ***

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