Welcome to Lace For Study. 

There are now just over 2600 pieces of assorted lace, crochet, knitting and textile examples published. The project from our point of view is coming to a close but we hope that our viewers will continue to make use of the site for some time to come. Your comments and amendments to what has always been an amateur offering are still most welcome. The latest publications are the final pieces that we have been able to find, wash and pin out, and then photograph. Apart from very early pieces, I think we have examples of most of what was on offer in the 1800s and early 1900s. It has been a labour of love for both of us (2 being the ideal number for ANY committee to get anything done!). It simply fell out of fashion by the time of WW2, and because of the enormous investment  of hours required by hand workers, became less possible. Machine lace can still be replicated as and when fashions change. The early pieces were of course indicators of personal wealth; today this is signalled by high fashion jewellery, mobile telephones, expensive cars etc.

It is hoped to be able to keep this reserve of photos going for while, but all space on the internet has to be paid for.

So take your personal copies while they are still there!

This is an amateur offering, to share with lace enthusiasts some lace items of varying qualities, from some being very poor, to some from the highest achievements of lace makers. It is offered in homage to the countless numbers of our lace-making predecessors, especially to those who spent their lives making endless lengths of only one pattern. Items are NOT for sale.

How to find your way around.

When one first goes into the site it will show the latest ten or so posts. These are all described in words, under headings of Type; Purpose; Date (a best estimate); Colour; Width; Length; Notes; Catalogue number. A tape measure in centimetres is included, the colours of which denote each 10 cms. section. Hovering over any photo will give any further information such as reverse side, the position of this shot in the whole piece, a close view of some point of interest such as a mend. For example, on post 1042 of a single Brussels lappet, the final photo shows the difference in width between the top and the bottom. (Please note that due to updates by WordPress that captions appear instead on posting 1098 onwards.)

Each week’s postings has an arrow at the base, pointing back to Older Postings, with a continuing arrow back at the base of each set.

At any point one can return to the Categories Section. If one were to choose, say, ‘Bed lace’, this takes you to Nos. 103, 102, 719 and 1029 with a brief description of each. By clicking onto ‘continue reading’, it brings up the full details and photos of that item. If you wish to see any of the other items, repeat the choice of Bed lace, and repeat the process.

If one wishes to search for say a country, or a particular style, simply enter this in the Search box at the top. A search under ‘Honiton’ pointed to over 60 entries, including where an item is in that style, but likely made elsewhere.

The following link is to the OIDFA Translator (see article in OIDFA Bulletin nr2 – 2014 by Jean & David Leader) to assist in translating lace terms between different languages.


Your comments are sought and appreciated.


These are pieces that will not normally feature in Museum collections, as not being of a high enough quality. However even the poorest of specimen has been made by somebody, purchased by somebody and worn by somebody. The eventual inheritors have thought it of sufficient interest for it to filter through the second hand or antiques markets. Many of these pieces were purchased for modest sums about forty years ago in the spirit of ‘rescue archaeology’ since often they were not being recognised as being hand made; other better pieces were acquired more recently as gifts from family. They all illustrate aspects of social history, especially the collars worn by the wealthy middle classes. A Victorian lady would be able to assess a collar from across the room, its style, its quality and its likely cost, much the same way that once one gets ones eye in, one can appraise the laces used in costume dramas in film or on TV. When looking at period collars, one often notices a stain around the neckline at the back. This illuminates for us just how hot dances must have been at the time, between the dancing and the heat from the candles or oil lamps. It is not realistic to attempt to remove these stains from 100-200 years ago, as it would cause too much damage to the fabric. Many pieces (excepting only the never-used ones) have been carefully washed to remove the dust and possible remnants of the last previous washing; and then finished in distilled water, and carefully pinned out to dry naturally.

Lace is, by definition, an artefact without provenance. Many pieces were used and re-used by succeeding generations. In many cases it is possible to recognise the style of construction, although since many lace makers were copying each other’s techniques, one cannot be certain that for example a piece in the style of Bedfordshire was actually made there. The reverse of some pieces has also been shown. Again, dating is a mixture of luck in finding in some reference book a well recorded piece with a date, which is significantly similar to the piece one is trying to date; and failing that, one uses close guess work, from the style. If anyone has better information, perhaps from some local Museum, or from some member of their ancestor family having made something similar, we are interested to learn from them. Please quote the catalogue number. Comments at the time they are made are limited to the specific item being looked at. You may wish to sign up for automatic e mail alerts but again this will only relate to the items that you have commented on. No details of personal e mail addresses will be published.

We have used a very wide selection of sources for dating, many specialised by district style or by period, and now out of print. The most helpful currently available has been Antique Lace: Identifying Types and Techniques by Heather Toomer, published by Schiffer [web site], or direct from the author at £39 including P&P in UK; £35 + postage + bank charges elsewhere. The retail shop price in UK is £39.95. Her email address is  Another very helpful source was the catalogue from the Bruges Museum, which unfortunately is now out of print. – Catalogus Van De Kantverzameling (Bruges Gruuthusemuseum – Bruges 1990) – St. Vandenberghe, F. Sorber, L. Van Damme-Ketele en P. Verstraete. There is also another page on the site giving a list of books and other publications used as research material for the site.

A visual impression is given as to the colour; some pieces are clearly white; these are mainly the cotton items, but there are also some of the earlier pure linen items. It is unlikely that they were actively bleached before circa 1900, when white was the fashion look. However, one must remember that before more modern equipment for laundering, washing would normally be done on a good drying day with the items spread out on the grass or on a bush to dry in the sun. The sunlight is a very active bleacher, so an edging on a robust domestic item may have been washed and dried in the sun many times over its lifetime. Others cannot be other than black; these are few, and are mainly made in silk. They would have been favoured for use in mourning, but also for splendour on, for example, a strikingly coloured ball gown. Unfortunately the dye itself eventually rots the silk, and gives off an unpleasant smell before ultimately the lace disintegrates. The main bulk is described as Natural; the colour tones vary widely, and any significant variations are noted. For some of them the threads were dyed before construction, to give them the ‘antique’ look that was very fashionable around the 1880, so there the overall look is darker than the initial natural colour of the thread. Some items were tea-dyed for fashion, to make a piece look more ‘antique’; this is discernable when the item is wet, as there are darker  and random spots where the actual tea leaves have touched the threads. These are noted. The main period for this was around the 1880s.

Some items, particularly collars, show the damage suffered during repeated wearings. They are included as they cast light on our forbears who wished to look fashionable, even on a small income. The repairs themselves are interesting. It has become apparent that it is now possible under the very high magnification to see the many early repairs, which were not visible in the hand with a magnifying glass.

The high period of lace splendour was from the mid-1500s, the 1600s and 1700s until the changes in attitudes which led onto the French Revolution brought a different perspective on conspicuous display. Most of these early pieces are of course in museums and thus are looked after in excellent conditions. There remained some early items in continuous use, particularly ecclesiastical, and economy forbade them to be replaced with simpler styles. The change did not happen until the Second Vatican Council  which permitted the expenditure on simpler styles, and this was enthusiastically embraced by the Clergy. As a consequence some interesting early items came onto the market around 1970 onwards.

In using the website, one can click on the Tags for the styles of construction, the size of the Tag reflects the number of entries. Hovering over the tag will indicate the number in that group. To return to the main menu, click back as often as needed. One can also use the Search option.

These photos are done by an amateur using a simple digital camera in natural daylight; nevertheless, the enlargement facility in the website allows one to see the structure in sufficient detail to remake the piece, if one is so minded. Just click again for maximum enlargement.

Further items will be added occasionally. It is striking that within the whole gathering, there are rarely two pieces alike. There will be eventually further items of costume and furnishing items that those interested in fashion may hopefully enjoy.

Copyright is waived for personal and small group study. Of course, if anyone were to wish to use these photos for commercial purposes, application should be made to the web master.

Finally, thanks go to Dan Bennett, who was a vital member of this project and who offered voluntarily his essential technical services. Our thanks must also go to the many individuals with specific IT expertise, who have contributed voluntarily to the development of this site. We hope they feel rewarded that it is being used gratefully by non IT specialists.

36 Responses to Introduction

  1. jan Tregidgo says:

    It is wonderful to see the results of all your hard work… thank you for sharing it all.
    May I put the web address up on my website so that more lace enthusiasts can share it.

    Best wishes and CONGRATULATIONS

    • admin says:

      I was pleased to see that you have found this site, and we hope you find it interesting.

      We are of course happy for you to add ‘Laceforstudy’ to your own site.
      With kind Regards,

  2. I’m so thrilled you sent me this link and will support you wholeheartedly, to my students and colleagues
    Congratulations! The more the merrier in the field of lace study.
    Rosemary Shepherd

    • admin says:

      Many thanks Rosemary for your kind, supportive comments and of course the link. Please do continue to look at the site on a regular basis as more pieces are being added weekly.

  3. Vladka says:

    Thank you for this web site, for sharing your beautiful lace and interesting information about them. I am interested in everything around lace. I love it.

    amateur Lacemaker from Czech Republic

  4. Rinna says:

    Thank you so much for all these amazing high-resolution photos! This is a real treasure for lace enthusiasts. Such big photos, where the threads are clearly visible, are the net best thing to actually handling old lace.

    • admin says:

      Your comments are much appreciated. Please do continue to visit for regular additions to the site.

  5. Caterina says:

    You wrote, “It is striking that within the whole gathering, there are rarely two pieces alike.”

    This is very true. As a lace collector, I know that the rule is, if you see it and love it, buy it immediately, because you’ll never see another one like it!

    Well, all rules have exceptions, and proving the exception to this one, I found these two Brussels Mixed Duchesse collars on eBay last week. The item numbers are 300481842012 and 160618006706.

    The earlier listing ended in early July (2011), so this message is time-limited, for those who are interested in seeing what antique lace is “doing” on the open market.

    • admin says:

      Wow! Congratulations on being the custodian of such a wonderful collar!
      I have had a look at the two items listed and wonder if in fact they are one and the same. The listings and end dates are approximately one month apart but on closer inspection of the lace itself there appear to be “iron stains” in the same places, or is it a trick of the light! What do you think please as you are lucky enough to own the piece?
      The Lace Designers were of course very experienced and whilst it can’t be ruled out, it would be uncanny if there were two so alike pieces of such quality like this.
      Thank you for visiting the site and please do look out for more listings.
      Yours sincerely and enviously

  6. Caterina says:

    Oh, no, I didn’t get to buy either one of these collars! We’ve had severe illness in my family, and I’m not buying any lace right now. In fact, a big part of the reason I cruise eBay and other online sites is so that I can be well-versed in what my own collection is worth, in case I have to sell some of it (so far, I haven’t …).

    Btw, for those interested in prices, other sites besides eBay with laces for sale include Marla Mallett, J&B Mendes, various antique-linens dealers, and antique bridal-goods sellers, who often have separate lace sections on their websites.

    For folks interested in seeing antique laces with “wow factor”, the major auction houses such as Sotheby’s and Christie’s often have spectacular laces, including museum-quality, in lots in their general sales. If you check auction-house sites, don’t overlook the “sold lots.” Anyone for a needle-lace portrait of King Charles I of England, exquisitely worked out of hair? It sold for only GBP 4800, at Sotheby’s in 2007.

    About those collars: I did direct each of the sellers to each other’s listing, and I think they both got a hoot out of it. This sort of thing happens so rarely!

    The lace manufacturers of the 19C (when these collars were made) were very, very organized. It’s only to be expected that they would re-use successful designs, not only to save money on designers’ costs, but to ensure the consistency of their products’ good name around the world.

    The problem for us today is that so much lace has been destroyed with time. Some of the destruction was quite casual, too. If a fine lace didn’t go moldy, or turn brown & crispy from perfume or bad storage, or get chewed up by insects and mice, it might have been cut up for wedding, party-dress, theatrical, or crafts purposes — or it might even have been given to the kids to play with! I grew up with cast-offs as playthings that included a necklace of incredibly detailed Czech molded glass beads that nowadays go for a fortune — IF you can find them at all. And only about 5 years ago, I saw in an antique-textiles shop, a Barbie-sized doll bed that had a cheap red flocked bedspread on it, covered with a cut rectangle of 18th-century Milanese bobbin lace that was hand-made with the finest, thinnest linen thread — all glued neatly into place, of course.

    So much for the chances now of finding duplicates, especially from separate sources! 😀


  7. Caterina says:

    Silly me. I went back to the eBay listings, and I believe you’re right, about these being one collar. The listing that ended earlier had the collar unsold at $150; the listing that ended later had the collar sold at $102. I did think it a little odd that one vendor only answered me with “Thanks” and a smiley face, and the other gave me a fun but somewhat vague response …. I must have been holding my thinking cap in my hands at the time, though, ‘cuz it certainly wasn’t on my head! 😀

    • admin says:

      So sorry that you don’t have the collar after all but thanks ever so much for your help, comments and continued interest – All very much appreciated!

  8. grace turano says:

    i am not sure if I am on the correct site, but I recently inherated a bag of lace.
    I was told it was made by my great aunt in a convent school in genoa, italy. As far as i can guess she was there late 1800.
    any suggestions.
    Thank you, Grace

    • admin says:

      Grace, how lovely for you to have family pieces of lace. You do not say in what part of the world you are living, but the first place to start finding out about your pieces is normally to enquire at your local Museum. If they do not have an expert there, they can often advise you where to try next.

      Lace was often made in Convents, for their own altar use. We also have reports of lace being taught in Convent schools especially in Ireland from the 1840s onwards, when the grand ladies of the district would bring information back from the London Season, about the latest fashions. All lace was about high fashion, and it enabled the poorer women to earn some money, although lace making was very poorly rewarded for the time and skill that
      went into the making of it.
      I hope that you enjoy your lace.

  9. Dietmar Krick says:

    I would like to express my sincere thank you for creating, maintaining and extending this site as a wonderful place to study and discuss the wonderful subject of lace. There is not always the time and possibility to visit lace collection for study, but this source is always there.
    Furthermore the design of the page and the quality of the pictures are beyond standard. How often do you see the most beautiful laces displayed in the dark, far away or behind mirroring glass frame that make it impossible to see all the details neccesary to explore all the secrets hidden in a piece of craftsmanship from the past.

    Keep going on so all lace addicts do have constantly the pleasure to explore something new at each visit.

    Thank you for your effort and work!

    • admin says:

      Thank you Dietmar for your very positive and encouraging comments regarding the site and particularly the photography. As stated we are only amateurs. So any help or advice is gratefully received. We look forward to your further input, especially as this is an ongoing project for a few years at least.

  10. Dietmar says:

    Today I discovered a change at this collection – website. The pictures appear on flickr instead of being posted directly on this website. The big benefit of this site had been the chance to have a close up look at the lace and the threads (as long as those pics weren’t blurry) and made it possible to do real studies.

    However, this is a definite downgrade from “useful as a study source” to “a nice picture site to look on w/o further benefit”. I think this is a pity, alas I maybe can understand the reason why.

    Kind regards

    • admin says:

      Hello Dietmar
      It’s lovely to hear from you again and you are absolutely right the posts 601 to 610 did have pictures attached using Flickr. You haven’t liked the quality of the pictures so they have been removed and the previous system of uploading pictures directly onto the site has been reinstated!
      Your feedback is invaluable and much appreciated. Please continue to enjoy the site!

  11. Fatima says:

    Amateur initiatives are most often the most devoted, meticulous, to the point of obsessive, and at all times beautiful.

    Now I have the opportunity to study your collection and make renditions of the laces in my chosen craft – crochet.

    Thank you.

    • admin says:

      Hi Fatima
      I hope that you continue to view, enjoy and find the site useful for your crochet projects.
      Best wishes

  12. Victoria says:

    In my course of research, I have just stumbled upon your fantastic website . I am the proud owner of a shoe box full of antique lace. I purchased it many years ago at an antiques auction and could not part with it, wishing for the time to be able to gain more information on the lace. Once in a while I remove the shoe box from the cupboard, I lift the lid and take each piece out, one at a time. I study each piece with my eye glass and have nothing but the deepest admiration for the creator of such miniature works of art. I daydream about who made such a piece or what item of clothing it was due to adorn. When I have got to the last piece, I place them back in the box very carefully, close the lid and place the shoe box back in the cupboard. Well, after doing this ritual for many years finally I have purchased a book on lace identification. I must admit it does seem a little bit of a mine field and I decided to search the web for back up. I am so glad that I did because now I have found your website. Your photo’s are clear and descriptions concise. I am sure I will be able to unlock the secret’s of my little shoe box of lace. Thank you

    • admin says:

      Hello Victoria
      Lucky you to have a box of lovely lace treasures! I am so pleased that you are enjoying our site and sincerely hope that it does indeed help unlock the mysteries of your lace pieces. It’s one of the main reasons that we decided to share the lace here. Please do continue to visit regularly as this project has some considerable way to go and if there isn’t an answer for you to day there may will be in the future!

  13. Joepie says:

    What a wonderful resource! Useful for my students as well. Thank you for all the hard work you put into this.

    A member of Arachne just mentioned your site and being naturally curious I just had to look. Am I glad I did.

    Kind regards, Joepie

    • admin says:

      Hi Joepie
      Thanks for your very positive comments. We hope that you and your students continue to find the site of some use and enjoy the lace shown.

  14. Dietmar says:

    Dear Admin,
    Of course, I will gather information on the “ape” pattern including references. Meanwhile I also had a chance to look up the picture in Elisa Riccis book and will include my thoughts about this too. I would like to take the opportunity to say thank you for putting such an interesting site together – I know there is a constant debate about Lace and the idenification of types and families. But this is vitual to keep the interest.

    I hope we will habe many more exchanges about our favorite theme – Lace!

    Best Regards

  15. Enid says:

    I have a collar which I am told is chemical lace, but it differs from those I have seen on the web in that it has bobbles in the pattern which are on the end of a short thread and not attached flat to the net bit of the background. Is it just that I am not recognizing other bobbles, or is it not so often found?

    • admin says:

      Hello Enid
      I wonder whether or not you have access to Pat Earnshaw’s “The Identification of Lace”, specifically to page 134 in which she say’s that “This technique (chemical lace) was used to great effect to imitate almost every lace that has ever existed, from sixteenth century cutwork, reticella and punto in aria to nineteenth century Brussels Duchesse, Point de Gaz, Irish Crochet and even Honiton.”
      So which lace do you think your piece is imitating?

  16. Gala says:

    Oh, what a wonderful site I found!
    Thank you so much for the valuable information and your beautiful pieces!
    I am so happy!

    Kindest regards
    Gala Gunem

    • admin says:

      Thank you for your kind words. We hope that you continue to enjoy the collection. If you are able to add further information on any of the pieces, it will be gratefully received.

  17. Karen Roy says:

    I am embarking on a personal research project about needlelace, which I document on my sewing blog. I very much appreciate your wonderful site, especially the close-up pictures that enable me to examine the stitches.

    You mention above that readers here can “take your personal copies while they are still there” and that “copyright is waived for personal and small group study.” I’m always on the hunt for good pictures of lace that I can use to illustrate my blog posts and support my research. Would it be all right for me to use your pictures for that purpose? I would attribute them to your site, of course, and provide links back to where I find them.

    To give you an example of the type of work I do, here’s a link to a post I did about French needlelace in the context of Colbert’s economic policies:


    • admin says:

      Hi Karen
      Thanks for your very supportive comments about the website. We are more than happy for you to use the pictures in your research so please go ahead and do keep us up to date with your achievements please?
      We still hold all of the pieces on the site so if there are any that you require specific close ups of and the site does not currently meet your expectations please let us know and if we can assist further, we will. This is exactly the sort of research that we hoped that the site would encourage. With very best wishes

  18. Ho says:

    Thank you so much for all the hard works on keeping a good record on these antique laces. I am currently working on a project to repair and transform antique laces into modern fashion items. It is so amazing to find this site sharing the spirit of ‘rescue archaeology’. It is very meaningful especially for the younger generations, for the people nowadays who have not able to see such beautiful crafts in this era.

    I truly wish you can continue to run this site for longer and longer time, so more and more people can be benefit from it.

    Thanks again for this wonderful offering.

    • admin says:

      Thank you for your very kind words. We hope that you enjoy using the site for some considerable time to come. If you think that there is anything else that we can asist you with regarding your “rescue archaeology” please just ask.

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