Sunday, March 11, 2012

A few treasures I’ve picked up…..

 French silk tassels, left is 18th century with chipped gilt header, the right 17th century

Most of you probably know I’m an antique textile dealer and as such I collect a lot of things related to the textile world.  One of my collections that I’ve previously shown is my collection of antique tassels here .

metal and silk cord wrapped in raw linen with handmade embellishments

I collect the unusual and rare items such as this handmade 18th century trim. We dealers have a tendency to keep the very rare if not the best of things. 

18th century French silk trim with silk and metal needlework

Because I can sometimes collect at an astounding rate and to save my checking account from bankruptcy I started looking for items I wouldn’t be able to collect quickly. Things so unusual that even I had never heard of them until I stumbled upon them.

While on a trip one time I found a couple of unusual 17th century Dutch lead cloth/textile seals. Cloth was one of the most valuable and highly regulated and controlled materials in the 17th century. The tags showed the cloth was guild approved, payment of custom taxes was paid and these seals actually served as tamper indicators. It is not possible to shorten a bolt of fabric without disturbing the seals.

In the British Museum

Coat-of-arms can be found on cloth seals such as this Calvert arms and serves as ownership identifier tag rather than a custom duties tag.

Another fun little item is this piece of bone used for stamping out bone buttons.

How about ephemera or paper goods, these are 19th century French linen export tags fronted with the lightest covering of real silver. As you can see some of them are starting to patina down and take on a more tarnished look. These would have been used on linen bolts indicating the yardage. (Sorry these are very difficult to get a good picture and show detail at a distance.)

Do the French ever do anything wrong in how they label things? To see other examples of English and Irish tags go here. Considering this was a throw away item once the cloth bolt was cut into it's amazing that so many wonderful examples still exist.

18th century prick & pounce vellum

I love this item it’s 18th century French and used for transferring a design on fabric for embroidery. A design would be drawn onto a thick piece of vellum and then pricked through with a sharp instrument leaving tiny holes. Then the vellum would be placed on a piece of fabric and pounced all over with powder that filters into the tiny holes, leaving tiny dots on the fabric. An embroider would then follow the dots to create their embroidery.

You can see how thick this piece of vellum is and would not have been thin enough to use for paper. Old vellum is animal skin whereas modern vellum, used for things like blueprints, is made from vegetable vellum.

I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing a few of my unique textile items in my collection. So now it’s your turn do you collect anything unusual or unique?

I hope you all have a wonderful week!



Room Seventeen said...

Beautiful treasures! Is it difficult to find them? Do you buy on the internet or antique shops in your area?

My favorite collectibles are French cast iron vases, and silver tableware. In May we will travel to France and visit a few antique markets, can't wait to go!

Mona Thompson Providence Ltd. said...

I would love to come to your studio and go through your awesome collection and antique textiles. What a treat that would be?? We could drink wine and talk for hours. XO, Mona

michele said...

loved this and learned so much. i had no idea. my favorite thing to collect is prob shells and of course you know i collect vintage jewelry. it's easy to part with because i am kind of a minimalist and get edgy if there's too much of it around.

hope you have a fabulous new week, classy lady.


sharon santoni at my french country home said...

Beauitful tassels Debra, but those silver tags really caught my eye, they are VERY hard to find here, how lovely and appropriate that you have some in your textile collection.

Splendid Sass said...

Thank you for sharing this. I just learned a few things I know nothing about. My mother was a beautiful seamstress, and she would have loved reading this.
Happy Sunday!

The enchanted home said...

My heart is beating fast just looking at all of these beautiful objects, the trims and tassels....gorgeous! When i go into places like Samuel and son I am like a candyaholic in a candy it all. The vintage ones are especially beautiful.
Then those gorgeous silver tags, they are exquisite! Thank you for sharing Debra.

Nella Miller said...

Amazing!! Informative and I loved the fabric bolt markers...hard to imagine something so finely wrought was so be discarded. Beautiful! N.xo

Taylor Greenwalt said...

Debra, The tassels and trim are beautiful. You must have a gorgeous collection..

Fashion-isha said...

These pieces are truly interested and pretty!

debra @ 5th and state said...

deb this set my imagination on fire! hand crafted bolt tags?! tassels from the 17th c! the beauty and the lessons were a delight. did not want your post to end.
nothing beats a good show and tell, looking forward to more.

Decor de Provence said...

This was one of the most interesting, beautiful, inspiring posts I have seen!!! You are so brilliant and I love the fact you collect such amazing treasures! You are a true talent - thank you for always sharing such inspiring posts!

Much love,

cotedetexas said...

those tags are just gorgeous!!! really beautiful.


Sharon Lee Johnson said...

What an interesting post and yes - the French do somehow do everything more stylishly than the rest of us. I love your passion for what you do - it shines through in your posts. x Sharon

Victoria said...

This was such a fascinating post. It is astounding to me how much beauty was infused into items that were meant to be discarded. It reminds me of how, in many cases, antique jewelry was so beautifully embellished on the back as well as the front, because real craftsman took pride in their work even if only the wearer saw its beauty.

Thoughts on Design said...

Loved reading your post and your approach to saving your checking account! The tiny paper/silvered tags are incredible! That's taking the idea that even the littlest least important detail can be am object of beauty.


Barbara@HausDesign said...

What a fascinating post - leave it to the French to make fabric clips so elegant! And those fabric stamps were so cool - I had never heard of that. What a unique collection Debra...I don't collect anything as interesting as that. :)

Heather Robinson said...

Oh yay! It looks like Blogger is cooperating today--I tried to leave word yesterday but no go! Well, now I can see that obviously I am far from the only one that was drooling over all of this. Unbelievable! And so rare! You have so many talents Debra--thanks for sharing with us a bit!

Leslie said...

-Debra, These a beautiful and interesting finds. Those French silk tassels are gorgeous and how neat is that bone piece? Love it all ~

Thanks for stopping by and leaving the comment. (potatoes get peeled because a certain dinner guest prefers skin off - what's a mother to do :)

Stacy CUrran said...

This is an amazing post! Thanks for sharing!


OMG!LOve those bolt tags!Did you find those here or abroad?Very interesting post!Thank You!

lvroftiques said...

Oh Debra so many beautiful and amazing things to see! I feel much smarter now....thanks! *winks* Those tassels...that trim...the linen export tags....YUMMM! Vanna

A Perfect Gray said...

debra! those treasures are stunning. I think I love the lead seals the best. do you get a little thrill each time you discover one? your tassels and trims are beautiful, but these rare pieces are wonderful to see...donna

Leslie said...

I've just found your blog - hurray! I collect many textiles for my shop. Some of what I collect are vintage New York City souvenir handkerchiefs. Love them!

designchic said...

The silver tags are absolutely gorgeous, but I love the tassels and trim. The metal and silk cord wrapped in linen trim is fabulous!!

Acanthus and Acorn said...

My favorite collection is opera glasses, but I am always game to add a new one! The French linen export tags are incredible! They would look great framed like an my house of course!!!

Fashion-isha said...

Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and leaving that comment. I just wanted to let you know that wasn't me! It was my friend...she did a guest post! Do you still want me to publish the comment?

Karena said...

Debra your collection is so astounding, you of course know what you are looking for and have a great eye for the unique and valuable. I am honored to have one of your pillows!

Art by Karena

LaPouyette said...

Simply BEAUTIFUL, Debra!

And HIGHLY educating !!!!
Could easily live with your silk tassels and...
What a wonderful, stunning and interesting collection. Whenever I'll have time I have to find out more about your "pieces", never heard or seen about it, so, learned something new.
Thank you!

By the way - yes, the German grain/flower sacks are for sale, will send you an email.

Ispirato Design said...

Absolutely adore this post! I love just milling around old antique shops looking for little historical artifacts like these. I've never seen anything like those fabric tags before- very interesting! Thanks Debra- now I have something else to keep an eye out for.

A room with a view said...

Debra, this is all very fascinating. I bet wherever you house these unique pieces must be a museum in itself. I have been taught something new here today. Love anything with a history and these have an incredible history.

Splendid Willow said...


I love visiting your blog because I always learn something new.

So many treasures in your drawers!

I have never seen linen export tags like that before. I would frame them. They are gorgeous!

You will be happy to learn that I have a little collection of Roman lead seals. (We have a lot in common girlfriend!).

Hugs and happy weekend.


P.S Did you ever get my e-mail re: my 2 cents series?

French-Kissed said...

Hi Debra,

I could sit and look at fabulous and interesting treasures like yours all day long. Thanks for sharing this wonderful post full of discovery.


pve design said...

Is it not wonderful to find collections that stem from one's own true passion. I am thinking more about collecting something as I age and how that will affect my children's future. Inheritance or family heirlooms are very intriguing to me. I could write or draw a book about this.
I think I need to come visit your studio/barn and see your amazing collection. So much inspiration.
Thank-you for your sweet birthday wishes.

Luciane at said...

I really enjoyed seeing your treasures! :-) I learn something new every time I visit you here!

Have a blessed weekend.


Luciane at

Divine Theatre said...

Oh! I loved this post! I have ideas twirling around in my head regarding how to display these items! LOL!

Hoping you are wel,


Kisses to Dylan and Kitty

Lisa Farmer Designs said...

I am one of your newest followers and I enjoyed your blog very much. The export tags are beautiful and I love the tassels and trim.

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