Thursday, March 11, 2010

Battenberg Lace

"Lace" is one of the most evocative words in our language. It suggests an elegant sensibility, a delicacy offering a diverse variety of styles and patterns. The word “lace” comes from the Latin meaning a noose or snare. Most likely its earliest origins from early fisherman who used the looping of threads into nets. As a needlewoman, it is no surprise that I am a collector of women’s textiles. Fiber into fabric and fabric fashioned into the everyday pieces that surround us from clothing to household goods to embellishment has always fascinated me.

Although I adore lace in all of its forms, it is the Battenberg lace technique that has always called me. I have antique Battenberg lace pieces around my house and in my closet. Battenberg or “tape lace” can be traced to the 16th century, Battenberg lace was first created when Queen Victoria of England named her son-in-law as the first Duke of Battenberg in the late 1800s. Every English Duke had his own lace pattern. Thus, a new style of tape lace called Battenberg was invented and became quite popular. During the 1930s and 1940s, making Battenberg lace was a fashionable American hobby made easier by readily available machine-woven tapes.

The most readily available Battenberg lace items can be found at every department, fabric and craft store. Who among us has not seen the Made in China pieces that abound?

I’m afraid I’m a bit of snob when it comes to Battenberg and do not own any of the modern pieces. If you have ever come across or are fortunate enough to own antique Battenberg lace you understand my snobbery. There is nothing quite like it.

Detail of antique Battenberg lace.  No comparison to today's modern pieces.

Lovely antique Battenberg lace parlour tablecloth. Circa 1890s.

Antique Batteberg lace bedspread.  Circa 1900s
Highly detailed work combined with netting and linen.  Circa 1910
Stunning wedding gown of Battenberg Lace.  Would be worn over a silk tafetta undergown.  Circa 1900s
Detail of gown train.  The hours spent creating this masterpiece are mind boggeling.
Lovely Edwardian color made from silk tape with pretty pink accents. 
Pretty overlay jacket.  I have a similiar piece in black that I wear.  Circa 1910.
An exquisite floor length jacket from the 1910-20s era combining silk guaze, battenberg lace technqiues and silk embroidered flowers in the art nouveau fashion.  I would love to own this lovely garment but it is too costly for my humble pocketbook.  But how smashing would the wearer be in this? 
I hope, in your travels, that as you come across true antique/vintage pieces of battenberg lace that you have the opportunity to really look closely at the workmanship of these pieces. They are nothing short of extraordinary.  Have a joyous day.  Sea Witch


Tristan Robin said...

gorgeous stuff, isn't it?!

love the round table cover - and that exquisite wedding gown!

when my grandmother passed away, my mother received all her Battenberg lace - quite a lot. My mother, who is only interested in modern style, gave it all away. I was too young to know to keep it for myself! argh!

Vicki's Bit-o-earth said...

Wonderful post! Love that collar! I have one piece of Battenberg lace from my grandmother. I treasure it highly and will pass it on to the grandchild who will treasure it most.

Trouvais said...

Hi Sea Witch. I'm really beginning to appreciate lace more and more. It's amazing the detail you begin to focus on, the nuances you see, the more you get to know about the history of an object. Or the opportunity to see the best of the craft. Thank you for such gorgeous examples. Trish

shirley said...

What a gorgeous collection it obviously gives you much pleasure. Just picture the beautiful bride in that wedding gown, all of it is wonderful.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your comment...I adore lace...

Madame DeFarge said...

I love lace too, but am always disappointed when we go to Bruges and it's all made in China. Just takes the gloss from it.

Pam @ Frippery said...

It is all so gorgeous! I agree with Tristan on the table cover and wedding gown. Stunning.

Anonymous said...

For me, lace signifies pure romance. The smallest piece casually draped, wistfully displayed, or even worn, speaks volumes. What a beautiful post! Thank you!

audrey said...

I love the piece from 1910 combined with netting and linen ~ gorgeous!
When I see beautiful old lace tableclothes and such in consignment and antiques shops, I buy them if they are in the right price range - only because they are so pretty and I can't pass them by. I'm not even sure what I will do with all of them, I just like looking at them. There is something so romantic about lace.
Thanks for sharing this ~ I enjoyed the interesting information and beautiful pictures.
♥ audrey

Michelle May-The Raspberry Rabbits said...

Hands down there is no comparison. The modern pieces are so stiff and boring. I have an old tablecloth from the 30's. It's a treasure.

Unknown said...

Real lace is beautiful, but my that art nouveau jacket is stunning.

J said...

i absolutely love lace, get a piece everytime i go somewhere on holiday as a reminder of that trip.

I have awarded you a beautiful blogger award, its over on my blog if you would like to collect.


sassytrash said...

That bedspread is fabulous! I love ANY kind of vintage lace, and have trouble parting with it when I use it for display at the show.

Jacque said...

Good Morning Witch,

WHAT??? You scared of something?? I can't even fathom that...LOL

I love that last article of clothing, ooo, la, la...I would feel like a Hollywood starlet, perhaps Jean Harlow, in that one!! I also love that wedding gown. Can you even imagine the hours of work in that piece?

Thanks for sharing with us! Enjoy your weekend!

Javajune said...

Is so lovely. Perfect pick me up for this moment I just learned a blogging buddy has past and I was sitting here in tears but I knew your blog would have something fun and inspiring to look at and of course I was right. thank you
enjoy your weekend