It is the task of the costume volunteers to check all the items in our costume collection (for bugs and other similar issues), to re-catalogue prior to recording on our computer system, and to repack to approved museum standards.
As you will be aware, perhaps if you follow our blog, many stunning items are ‘unearthed’, not least, last week, a damask tablecloth.
The museum has, from time to time, taken in what might be called ‘related items’ to the costume collection, including buttons, fans, swatches of cloth, handkerchiefs, bedspreads, and, in this case a tablecloth.
As part of the weave of this cloth there were complicated and detailed street scenes and references to a celebration associated with George II. It has been provisionally identified as Dutch (because of the appearance of the name of our capital city, spelled ‘Londen’).
George II , born in what is now Germany, came to the throne in 1729 at the age of 44 and remained until his death in 1760. The tablecloth may well be a souvenir of the coronation.
It was, as you might imagine, extremely difficult to photograph effectively but these views may offer an idea of the exceptional weaving:
From Britannica on-line: Crusaders who had passed through Damascus introduced the fabric to Europe in the 11th century, and the weaving of linen damask became established in flax-growing countries—in France, for example, by the mid-13th century. The Flemish city of Courtrai was noted for its table linen in the 15th century, as was Haarlem, Netherlands, in the 17th and 18th centuries. William III established damask weaving in Ireland in the late 17th century.
Antique damask was 18 to 25 inches (45 to 63 cm) wide, the distance a shuttle carrying the weft threads could be thrown by hand from selvage to selvage through the raised warps. Widths of 50 inches (127 cm) and more could be produced by mechanized weaving, which was introduced about 1835.