A pair of salesman’s pattern books, containing over one thousand finely woven textile samples. TEXTILE SAMPLE BOOKS.
A pair of salesman’s pattern books, containing over one thousand finely woven textile samples.
A pair of salesman’s pattern books, containing over one thousand finely woven textile samples.
A pair of salesman’s pattern books, containing over one thousand finely woven textile samples.
A pair of salesman’s pattern books, containing over one thousand finely woven textile samples.
A pair of salesman’s pattern books, containing over one thousand finely woven textile samples.
A pair of salesman’s pattern books, containing over one thousand finely woven textile samples.
A pair of salesman’s pattern books, containing over one thousand finely woven textile samples.
A pair of salesman’s pattern books, containing over one thousand finely woven textile samples.
A pair of salesman’s pattern books, containing over one thousand finely woven textile samples.
A pair of salesman’s pattern books, containing over one thousand finely woven textile samples.
A pair of salesman’s pattern books, containing over one thousand finely woven textile samples.
A pair of salesman’s pattern books, containing over one thousand finely woven textile samples.
A pair of salesman’s pattern books, containing over one thousand finely woven textile samples.
A pair of salesman’s pattern books, containing over one thousand finely woven textile samples.
A pair of salesman’s pattern books, containing over one thousand finely woven textile samples.
A pair of salesman’s pattern books, containing over one thousand finely woven textile samples.
A pair of salesman’s pattern books, containing over one thousand finely woven textile samples.
A pair of salesman’s pattern books, containing over one thousand finely woven textile samples.
A pair of salesman’s pattern books, containing over one thousand finely woven textile samples.
A pair of salesman’s pattern books, containing over one thousand finely woven textile samples.

A pair of salesman’s pattern books, containing over one thousand finely woven textile samples. [probably Norwich, England, 1820s-1830s].

2 vols., agenda format (260 x 148/142 mm). 124 unnumbered leaves (75 and 49 leaves respectively) of wove paper (leaves [28] and [29] in the larger volume wider and folding), containing one thousand sixty-six highly varied woven wool textile samples (with no repetition): mounted on rectos only, within lithographic ornamental forms printed in blue, outer borders incorporating cartouches for the manuscript identifying numbers, the carefully applied swatches placed within or onto 16 compartments formed by 12 plain and 3 ornamental horizontal bands, most rectos with from 4 to 16 swatches (a few pages partly empty). The smallest swatches fit within the printed compartments; others overlap two or four compartments, and a few extend across the width of the page; to these latter samples are affixed small gold-ink bordered lozenge-shaped labels for the ms. numbers. The samples are numbered in manuscript, many in non-consecutive order, with section headings in German and occasional terms in French, in a large neat cursive hand in brown ink. fine condition (one swatch defective, upper corners of first few leaves of second volume slightly curled). Contemporary blue paper wrappers; housed in a 19th-century calf two-part box, repeated gold-tooled floral roll at the edges lined in green paper (rubbed, scrapes, cracked). The inner front wrapper of the 75-leaf volume labeled in ms. N. 5, the other volume labeled N. 2. Provenance: from the collections of the textile dealer Cora Ginsburg (1910-2002), acquired in England in 1962.***

An exceptionally well-preserved and varied pair of salesman’s sample books of fine woven cloth for clothing or furnishing. Probably produced in Norwich for the German market, these two pattern books contain hundreds of neatly aligned small woven samples in a staggering array of patterns and weaves. Many of the dazzling page openings evoke the early abstractions of a Paul Klee. Most of the swatches incorporate stripes, many in combination with geometric shapes, diaper patterns, zigzags and chevrons; floral and foliate motifs; or flame-patterned ikat-style designs. The pristine colors include subtle shades of beige, blue, peach, and pink; bright red, green, yellow, orange, and purple, often juxtaposed with black and white; and deep blue and plum. Some samples have the same patterns in different colorways. A few are highlighted with gold thread.

The swatches are neatly mounted on lithographically printed leaves, with blue border designs of stylized foliage-and-pearl motifs and 32 small rectangles for numbering. This decorative presentation, commissioned from job printers, indicates that the books were used by salesmen to elicit orders. The handwritten numbers appearing in the margins of the pages, or on small paper labels affixed to the largest samples, are not always consecutive; rather than stock numbers used on a short-term, seasonal basis by warehousemen, they served as a reference for salesmen.

The samples are grouped according to pattern, color and/or weave structure, and are identified mainly in German, with a few terms in French and even Italian. Weisbodige Croisé (white ground with crosses), for example, describes a selection of swatches with white stripes alternating with colored, chevron-patterned stripes. Under the heading Rothbodige Köper (red ground twill) are swatches with alternating wide bright red and narrow yellow, green and black stripes; Jacquard Ramagé (branch motifs) refers to multicolored swatches with wide and narrow solid stripes alternating with delicate, stylized trailing floral vines. Atlas Croisé (satin with crosses) refers to solid, satin-weave stripes alternating with bold chevrons. Leaves 34-75 of the first volume each contain four large ikat-liike samples, with sections of Geflammte Moreas (Morees), Geflammte Puntati Croisé & Cuttni, and Geflammte blau & rothbodige Köper (blue and red ground flame-patterned twill), for the red and blue warp-dyed stripes. The occasional use of the term Cuttni in the pattern books, describing multicolored swatches with fine diaper or lozenge patterning, is interesting. It derives from the word Cuttanee, used in seventeenth-century India for a mixed silk-and-cotton export fabric, often striped and sometimes interspersed with flowers.

Among the various techniques, including supplementary warps, float patterning, diamond twills, and damasks, the most interesting are those with chevrons: plain weave with resist-dyed warps (ikat), satin damask and plain weave with floats of supplementary warps. While most samples are entirely wool, some have fine, narrow gold warp stripes that add a hint of glitter.

Several factors in the books’ organization and contents point to Norwich. A similar type of printed ornamental form was already used in around 1800 in Manchester, an important center of the English printed cotton industry. However, the exclusive use of wool in these books indicates Norwich—a well-known area for the production of woolens—as the likely source of manufacture of the samples. Norwich worsted wool fabrics from the mid- and late-eighteenth century show similar combinations of plain and figured stripes:

“Worsted is a fabric woven from long staple wool, which is prepared for weaving by combing rather than carding, and can have a smooth finish suitable for glazing. In the second half of the 18th century, the majority of the worsteds exported were calimancoes. A contemporary writer commented that 'these were woven in various patterns which ... were composed of the richest and most brilliant dyes and variegated by an endless diversity of colours ... this manufacture was peculiar to Norwich, and the colours employed for it surpassed any others dyed in Europe'. British Customs records list large quantities of worsted sent to Spain and Portugal from Norwich in the 18th century. The export market was of major importance to Norwich textile manufacture. Norwich Stuffs, as they were known, were exported via London (and later Great Yarmouth), through Rotterdam, Hamburg and Danzig” (V&A collections, description of a 1763 worsted wool pattern book from Norwich: http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O77694/pattern-book-kelly-john/#).

Norwich sample books were recently the object of an interesting study by Victoria Mitchell, who describes them thus: “Whether intended for the purposes of record-keeping or marketing the eighteenth-century books from Norwich invariably display an almost obsessive attention to detail and precision, with narrow strips of vibrantly dyed and woven samples meticulously assembled to fit the pages, often orchestrated as if to convey an aesthetic effect. Unlike many of the examples discussed by Miller, the Norwich samples are rarely large enough to show the whole pattern repeat. It is as if a template for the page, card or book is decided upon, and the sample is then cut to fit. The dimensions of the pattern might be given however, and each sample was numbered, and often priced. Safely pressed between the pages of books, these samples are well preserved and still fresh in colour today, allowing a direct material engagement with the original. ... The almost infinite variations of colour and pattern, accentuated in their intensity in the context of a book or card, create an eye-catching and infectious spectacle. ... The presentation of choice in the books of samples from Norwich is literally fascinating, with some pages so stunning and dazzling in their effect and we might argue that it could be the effect of the whole page that seduces the buyer, rather than the individual sample.”

These sample books were marketed throughout Europe and indeed as far away as Asia and the Americas, “In some instances there may have been several copies of the same book made, going to different parts of the world, as was the case in the 19th century in pattern books from the North of England, but it is more likely that the books were produced with a specific nation in mind, even to the extent of naming fabrics to appeal to a particular national language. Norwich was particularly inventive in its naming of products, sometimes to the confusion of the consumer.”

While these woven swatches relate stylistically to surviving printed cotton samples of about 1815 to 1820, the lithographically printed paper as well as the references to Jacquard suggest that the books were produced in the 1820s or 1830s. First breveted in Lyon in 1801 by Joseph-Marie Jacquard, the “Métier Jacquard” was a significant technological development, utilizing a series of punched cards to manipulate the warp threads and allowing for highly complex weave structures (Jacquard’s idea of punched cards was later used by Charles Babbage for his proposed Analytic Engine—the first computer). Although documented in England in the late teens, Jacquard looms were not widely used there until the 1820s and after. Finally, since these are merchants’ sales books, it may be that the swatches represent the output of more than one mill, a possibility supported by the variations in the fineness of the weaving and fabric weight.

In their overall aesthetic, the patterns relate to both Western and Eastern traditions. Some of the samples in these books may imitate a type of Indian cotton-and-silk tie-dyed fabric known as mashru, characterized by ikat stripes. Between their plain blue paper covers, these books with their myriad, colorful samples are an impressive testament to the inventiveness and skill of early-nineteenth- century designers and weavers.

Cf. Mitchell, Victoria, "A Marketplace in Miniature: Norwich Pattern Books as Cultural Agency" (2008). Textile Society of America Symposium Proceedings. 222 (online: https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/tsaconf/222).

With: Two unrelated later sets of textile samples: 25 samples of printed wools on rectos and versos of four lithographically printed boards, with affixed printed number labels (mid-19th century); and 21 printed wool samples on 7 panels of an accordion-style foldout sample, the first of the panels with wood-engraved label, “Manufactures de Paris / Saison d’hiver”; the versos covered in green moiré paper (ca. 1870s, soiled and stained). Item #3205

Price: $15,500.00

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