[PASSMENTERIE. ~ Manual and Sample Book]. [France, ?St. Etienne. c. 1870-90].
Folio (350 × 220 mm), 65 pages with mounted samples in woven silk, designs in pencil, ink and gouache, or manuscript instructions for patterns. The leaves occasionally a little browned, but all the samples in excellent condition. Contemporary reversed green half sheep, marbled boards (remains of old paper label).
A spectacular manual and sample book for the typically-French craft of passmenterie: the production of decorative silk braid, trimmings and tassels. As these samples demonstrate, designs could be extraordinarily intricate, expressed as pixel-like coloured cells on graph paper which were then produced in silk using a variety of weaving, twisting and braiding techniques. The French pioneered the craft in the later middle ages and became pre-eminent in its production (with Diderot’s Encyclopédie devoting a long illustrated article on it) and supplying a worldwide market by the end of the nineteenth century. The examples in this album cover a wide range, with complex woven plaids, often with fringes and a wonderful series of 8 coloured silk feathers. The manuscript elements include weaving patterns and tables for the calculation of silk quantities.