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Lace Samples from Ipswich, Massachusetts, 1789-1790

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by Karen H. Thompson

History, Patterns, and Working Diagrams for 22 Lace Samples Preserved at the Library of Congress

In the late 1700s Ipswich, Massachusetts, had the only documented commercial handmade lace in the United States. Twenty-two black silk bobbin lace samples made by lace makers in Ipswich between 1789 and 1790 are preserved in the Library of Congress among the papers of Alexander Hamilton. It is extremely rare to have samples of 18th century lace with exact provenance of where and when they were made.

This book provides a short introductory history as well as the patterns and working diagrams for the 22 black silk bobbin lace samples. Photographs of the original samples side by side with Karen Thompson’s reconstructed samples highlight the beauty and variety of the Ipswich lace. A chapter on technical details will help lace makers and non-lace makers alike understand the mechanics and vocabulary of lace. Instructions are given on how to make bobbin lace and how to interpret a color-coded working diagram.

The Ipswich lace industry provides important information with its uniquely well documented survival of women's paid out-work in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The book is written for lace makers and researchers who are interested in studying historical laces, late 18th century textiles, Massachusetts history, and those wishing to make historical American bobbin lace.

Orders for US domestic addresses only. For international orders, please contact The Lace Museum directly.