Pottenkant (Antwerp Bobbin Lace)
Milanese Tape Lace
Flemish Tape Lace
Antique Bobbin Lace
© Lorelei Halley 2009
Antwerp straight laces, Pottenkant, Milanese tape lace and Flemish tape lace throw any neat historical account into disarray because they overlap several periods.
Antwerp straight laces
|Early Antwerp straight laces often had motifs shaped
like worms (vermicular), and these motifs were not symmetrical, but were
directional. They often had little flower heads on the ends of the
vines. Or perhaps one could call them vine like.
17th - 18th century Antwerp
|23 EK Mechlin ground||29 EK Paris ground.|
Compare these motifs to Cantu, a 19th and 20th century Italian tape lace. Perhaps this is where the design style originated. Are they deliberately copying this style? bkmk Also compare to Milanese tape below.
|18th Antwerp type|
|62 BN Valenciennes ground. This particular piece was very well preserved, which makes me hesitate about the date. It is true to the style of 18th century Antwerp. It may be a recent copy (recent being 19th century).|
Pottenkant ( flower pot lace) was an Antwerp straight lace which started in the mid 1600s, c. 1650. According to Santina Levey it started as a high fashion lace, but then fashion changed. The old style continued to be made until about 1850, but the latter 75% of this time period it was sold to the peasantry as part of their costume, especially cap lace; but also was used locally as furnishing lace. This makes it very difficult to date any particular piece with any accuracy. The style stopped changing. It is changes in style and the shapes of the pieces (dictated by fashion) that allow us to date laces. When the lace ceases to follow this pattern you can't pinpoint its time of origin.
These were straight laces, usually rather wide (often about 4 to 6 inches), and nearly always had mirror symmetry in the design. That is, the design would be perfectly symmetrical left and right, and the motif's left and right sides were mirror images. Often the repeat was quite long. I've seen some with an 18 inch long repeat, although many were only 8 to 12 inches long. The headside was usually straight. The ground could be any one of several possibilities: Paris ground, Valenciennes ground, Flanders ground (five hole), 12 thread armure (Binche snowflakes in half stitch), Mechlin ground. As time went on Paris ground was used more and more often, and the others fell into disuse, for the most part.
482 lbj ph/b it Val ground. In my own mind I call these "ball head laces" because it is like a flower head which is ball shaped. It was a common design type in the 17th century. I have also heard these called "cauliflower" laces.
See also 18th c Mechlin/Flanders with Paris ground and revival era Paris lace.
17th-18th Pottenkant: 765 IT Paris ground bk mk
18th - 19th Pottenkant: 93 IT honeycomb gnd 94 IT point ground
379 IT Ilske thinks it is Italian. Looks like tape but isn't. Very strange. Date unknown.
A somewhat similar situation occurred with Flemish and Milanese tape laces, particularly the latter. They were made continuously from about 1650 to about 1850. But around 1700 the style and delicacy of fashion lace changed drastically. Laces from the old patterns couldn't be sold as fashion laces, but were useful as furnishing linen and for church use. What is interesting about Milanese and Flemish tape lace is that all the working methods which went into the highly complex, delicate and fine Brussels laces of the 18th century began to develop in these tape laces 1650-1700. Even rib stitch (also called tenstick) started as an edge treatment in Flemish tape laces around 1690. At least I have seen this in lace at the Art Institute of Chicago. Some of these laces have a continuous tape which remains a constant width, and does not add or subtract bobbins as it is worked: in other words a pure tape lace. But some look like tape laces in terms of design, but when you look very closely you see that the tapes widen and narrow in ways that cannot be accommodated simply by making decorative holes or changing stitches: new threads have to be added temporarily and removed when the tape narrows. Some also have tapes which end: the design looks like tape lace, but is made in discrete units like a part lace. This latter kind I've taken to calling variable width discrete units tape lace (vwdu), because in terms of its structure and what the lacemaker has to know, it differs from the constant width tape lace.
Very Early Tape Laces, Probably Antwerp 17th Century
|58 ek constant width||59 ek constant width|
Milanese/Flemish Tape Lace
17th century constant width. This means that the tape was woven throughout with a constant number of bobbins. No new threads needed to be hung in, and nothing was cut out. Where there is a ground, it was hung in after all the tape work had been finished.
|739 ek||486 it||153 lh This feels like a 19th century peasant lace. But look closely at those little empty circles, and compare them to the same element in #486. There is also a lace in the DMC tape lace lesson book which closely resembles this lace.|
See also revival era Milanese/Flemish tape lace and 17th-18th constant width: bk mk
|194 ek||May be Val ground.||57 ek|
Compare to Antwerp above.
Variable Width. These required additional bobbins to be hung in for shaping the tape into the little floral bits.
|147 ek this is probably 18th c.||579 it Val ground discrete units|
Bobbin 2 structural classes
Bobbin lace history overview
1559-1700 18th c Bobbin Lace 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