Bobbin Lace 18th Century
Antique Bobbin Lace

  © Lorelei Halley 2009

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     Site Map      Mechlin/Flanders-mid 18thc      Early Val/Binche     Early Brussels/Flemish     Brabant      Bath Brussels 

In general terms, for both straight and part laces, the relative proportions of the surface of the lace devoted to motifs and to ground also changed during the 18th century.  In the early part of the century the motifs occupied nearly the whole surface, with very little ground between the motifs.  As the century went on ground occupied an ever larger percentage of the lace, until it was about 50% in mid century.  During the 1780s we begin to see straight laces which are mostly ground with very small motifs.  Some of the used Mechlin ground and some used Point ground.  (This fashion may have developed because Marie Antoinette was fond of clear net.)  This is a matter of style, but it helps us to date individual pieces.  Also whether the headside was straight, slightly scalloped, or deeply scalloped also changed across time.

Straight Laces

Early Mechlin or lace with Brussels ground

33 ek  Date and origin unknown.  Scale and thread are fairly coarse, not typical of Flanders area.


Straight laces of the 18th century are of two primary types: those with gimp and those without gimp.  Levey considers the distinction between Binche and Valenciennes to be immaterial this early:  both towns were very close together, and there was no reason for their styles to have developed differently.  The distinction only becomes important in the Revival Era laces.  Revival Era Straight Lace.   These Binche/Val laces did not have gimp, but did have a ring pair.  The other group are laces with gimp.  Some authorities call these Mechlin, after the major town in the district, but some European writers call these Flanders, after the name of the whole district.  So there are two kinds:

Binche/Val             no gimp

Mechlin/Flanders    gimp

However both groups used a multiplicity of grounds, among which were: Flanders ground (5 hole), Paris ground, Valenciennes ground (round version), Binche snowflakes in half stitch (12 thread armure), other Binche snowflakes, Binche snowballs of various kinds, Mechlin ground.  In the early years of the century you could find any one of these with equal frequency.  As the century progressed the preferred grounds changed somewhat.  By around 1750 in the Mechlin/Flanders laces Flanders ground was becoming more common than all the others.  But Mechlin ground  increased in frequency because it began to be used in those laces which were mostly ground.  This general type developed into the  Napoleonic Era laces.   After about 1770 we don't see Flanders, Paris, or the various Binche snowflakes and snowballs.  The Binche/Val laces began to use Val ground exclusively at mid century.  Val laces continued throughout the 19th century, but were always made with Val ground (square version).

Mechlin/Flanders: Laces with Gimp                        *

Mid 18th century                  *

  Mechlin bobbin lace          

Mechlin bobbin lace 


early Mechlin lace with Paris ground


Mechlin lace with Flanders ground
early Flanders bobbin lace

Flanders bobbin lace
13 n ek  Mechlin ground 14 ek  Mechlin ground 30 ek Paris ground
See also Revival Era Paris.
11 ek Flanders ground
See also Revival Era Flanders.
12 ek Flanders ground


Mechlin lace with armure ground Mechlin/Flanders lace with armure ground
Mechlin lace with snowflake ground in half stitch

Mechlin/Flanders lace with ground of snowflakes in half stitch

10 ek armure ground (Binche snowflakes in half stitch) 500 IT  Armure ground    


Laces of uncertain date. Mechlin bobbin lace Mechlin bobbin lace

Mechlin bobbin lace

These are probably 1770s.
21 ek  Mechlin ground
This may be c 1790
26 ek  point ground. Date unknown. 22 ek  Mechlin ground.  I have seen several laces in this style. Some were straight laces, some were part laces.  I am just not sure if these are mid 18th century or 1830-1850.  A short repeat is typical of Napoleonic era laces and its close successors.  This is not a short repeat. 20 ek Mechlin ground
This may be post Napoleonic.  I'm not sure of the date.

  See also  revival era Mechlin      Napoleonic era        and 19th century Mechlin       laces.


 Early Valenciennes/Binche: No Gimp                                                             *

This group are very early, probably 1700 - 1715.                                          
  Binche/Valenciennes bobbin lace  Binche bobbin lace  Binche bobbin lace Binche/Valenciennes bobbin lace  
1 ek early 18th        
Binche bobbin lace Binche bobbin lace       
131 rh   493 IT    

See also         revival era Binche           and            revival era Valenciennes           


These are a little later: c. 1715-1735.                                                   *
Binche bobbin lace Binche lace Binche bobbin lace with Flanders Binche with snowflake ground
2 2nd qtr 18th ek snowball   4 ek Flanders ground snowflake filling 7 ek  snowball 5 several gnds ek

Binche lace with Flanders ground    
8 ek  Flanders 494 IT snowball 3 ek Flanders ground snowball filling    

These are mid-century, c. 1740-1760.                               *
Binche bobbin lace with Flanders ground Binche lace with Flanders ground early Flanders bobbin lace

6 ek mid 18th c Flanders ground 495 it  Flanders ground 485 it  Flanders ground    

Part/Sectional Laces:

Early Brussels  (Flemish)                                                                           *

early Brussels bobbin lace early Brussels bobbin lace bkmk
156 bn   487 it 158 bn  

See also     very early Brussels        

Brussels circa 1720-1740                                                                *

Brussels bobbin lace Brussels bobbin lace    
36 ek 195 ek 565 it    

Brussels bobbin lace Brussels bobbin lace
38 ek   All the white outlines are raised work, not gjmp. 37 ek    
Brussels bobbin lace Brussels bobbin lace with droschel ground        
39 ek          

mid century (also sometimes called Point d'Angleterre)                                                         *

Brussels bobbin lace  
159 LH Original ground was droschel, but has been replaced in places by a needle made ground.   40 ek droschel ground
See also   
 19th c Duchesse       
Brussels bobbin lace 182 182    
lace 182 Ilske Thomsen
droschel ground

Brabant:                                                               *

Levey uses this description for laces with a slightly looser weave and less distinct design.  She regards these as probably made in outlying districts away from, and not so closely in touch with, the fashion center in the town.

Brabant bobbin lace Brabant bobbin lace    
43 ek 42 ek   44 ek  This is a little later than the 2 previous.  

Bath Brussels:  Levey's term for laces of the same time period, made in England.                          *

Bath Brussels bobbin lace Bath Brussels bobbin lace Ilske Thomsen and I are not sure whether 555 and 172 are Devon laces (what Levey calls Bath Brussels) or Brussels.  One way to distinguish them is by the fillings.  None of these use typically English fillings.  See 760 and 47 for comparison. See 19th c Honiton for comparison.  Look at #760 and #47.    
555 IT  Ilske thinks this is 1770s Devon.  Compare this and the one below to laces 40 and 182 above.      
Bath Brussels bobbin lace 172a 172b 172c Brussels or Bath Brussels
lace172 IT  This is a very similar design to the one above.  Reverse side front side      

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  Bobbin 2 structural classes     
  Bobbin lace history overview 
 Napoleonic era
 19th c Straight Bar Lace                
 19th c Straight Mesh Lace             
 19th c Part Lace
  Revival Era Straight Lace 
  Revival Era Part Lace   

  New Revival Era