A friend of mine bought these "lace coasters" (as they were labeled) at a thrift shop in Phoenix, a set of 10 of them for $5 (all identical).  They came wrapped with a piece of tissue paper with a sticker that says "Robinsons Los Angeles", a now closed department store.  

They certainly look like handmade bobbin lace to me.  They are about 5 1/2" in diameter, with the lace being about one inch wide. There are stickers on most of them that say "made in China."  I am curious to know if anyone knows anything about bobbin lace being made in China for export like this, what time period they might be from, etc.  Many thanks for your thoughts!

Views: 212

Replies to This Discussion

At the Smithsonian Museum we have a collection of around 50? Samples of handmade lace made in China. I think they were made before 1910. (I am in New Zealand at the moment and am answering from memory, not my notes) A few years ago when visiting China I was told there are factories with people making lace by hand. So I think these doilies were handmade in China as the label says. Quite a bargain.

Compare this:
http://gwydir.demon.co.uk/jo/lace/collection/lace121.htm   That was described to me as Flanders lace, and the date as late 19th to early 20th c. The pattern on my piece is called "the ape" and several variants of that pattern exist. It is used as a student piece because it has most of the techniques used in Flanders. 

Yours looks more modern, and has a "made in China" sticker on it. In which case, its a Chinese copy of Flanders lace. Yes, it looks hand made to me - I can't see any obvious signifier of being machine made. However, these machines are very clever! So I couldn't be 100% sure. But I'd guess hand-made.

But I'm not an expert on European lace (or Chinese lace!)

This is definitely hand made bobbin lace. The design is, I think, a variant of the "monkey motif" used to teach the basic elements of Flanders lace. It would be about the 5th or 6th piece a student would make in that style. Here is another version of that design.

Most Flanders has gimp, but the monkey design doesn't seem to (at least in all the variants I have seen). 

But I have doubts as to it being Chinese made, even with the stickers. Flanders is a rather difficult technique requiring a lot of prior experience. My impression is that China produced a lot of handwork for export in the 1980s, so they could amass enough money to build factories for mass produced goods. Once the factories were built, there was no longer any reason for making and selling handwork. I have seen a fair amount of Chinese made bobbin lace, and the techniques/styles used were usually Cluny type, or torchon. The scale of the type of lace you have shown us is considerably finer than Cluny, which means making 4 square inches takes longer than 4 square inches of Cluny. This defeats the purpose of making lots of stuff to sell. 

Getting 10 for $5 is a steal, outrageously cheap. That says more about what the market wants than it does about the amount of work involved in making it. If I were making these, each would take at least 8 hours.

Thank you, all of you, for your insights - really appreciate it!  I love seeing Jo's identical lace piece in particular.  Lorelei, I'm intrigued by your doubt about these being Chinese made.  I agree - they seemed to be lace that would take too long to make to be "typical" Chinese export made lace...and yet, these stickers, clearly on there for a long time.  I wish I knew more about the store (assuming the tissue paper they were wrapped with is correct) where the set was sold, whether it sold a lot of lace, etc.  Robinsons of Los Angeles.  And when and why those stickers were put on there.  A mystery for sure.


Translate This Site



Created by Lorelei Halley Administrator Jan 19, 2012 at 7:07pm. Last updated by Lorelei Halley Administrator Dec 9, 2014.


Created by Lorelei Halley Administrator Jan 19, 2012 at 7:29pm. Last updated by Lorelei Halley Administrator Sep 2, 2014.

How to Post a Long Article

Created by Lorelei Halley Administrator Mar 7, 2013 at 4:47pm. Last updated by Lorelei Halley Administrator Mar 7, 2013.


Created by Lorelei Halley Administrator Jan 19, 2012 at 6:58pm. Last updated by Lorelei Halley Administrator Dec 20, 2012.

How to embed a video on the IOLI site

Created by Tatman Jan 25, 2012 at 3:26pm. Last updated by Lorelei Halley Administrator Jan 25, 2012.





Other Events

Laurie Waters has a very substantial EVENTS list on lacenews.


EU Cookie Directive

© 2019   Created by Lorelei Halley Administrator.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service