Lace Names - Binche Valenciennes

Binche and Valenciennes

To continue the earlier discussion about Mechlin and Brussels lace, this adds on Binche and Val as identifiers.

I think when most lace makers say “Val” they are thinking of the Revival Era lace which had the so-called “square” ground with relatively dense clothwork. Here is an example. and

A modern sample which makes the structure clearer.

Also I think that most lace makers think of modern Binche with snowflake ground, and other ground and fillings. Or perhaps they include the amorphous gimpless laces of the Revival Era. Michael Giusiana has a lace of this type in his first Binche book, BINCHE publ 1989 pages 78-79. In the Revival Era these two types – Binche and Val – are quite distinct. But historically, in the 18th century the distinction was not that great in overall appearance, style, or where they were made.

This map shows Binche bottom center. Valenciennes is at the same latitude, about 20-30 miles directly west. In the center outlined in red is the town of Mechlin/Malines/Mechelen.,+Belgium/@50.8853106,4.3808266,9z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x47c3e59450852049:0x40099ab2f4d5800!8m2!3d51.0258761!4d4.4775362

All of these laces are from a small region. I have heard that other historians regard them all as very much the same. It certainly is possible that information, styles, designs could have been passed back and forth. Most working people would not have traveled far from their birthplace at that time, but the distances are so close that merchants could easily have done so.

So, in terms of names, I have been using the name Binche/Val for the 18th century  gimpless lace with a lace pair, and Flanders/Mechlin for the 18th c  lace with gimp.

Binche/Val and Flanders/Mechlin all have in common that 2 pairs enter the clothwork at each pin.  This produces some very complex thread paths in the clothwork. This distinguishes them from the Point Ground laces, which have only 1 pair entering (usually).

Binche/Val has many similarities with Flanders, structurally, but there are also differences. Val and Binche do not have gimp, so the problem arises of how to give a cloth motif and curved rounded smooth boundary. The solution is to add a “lace pair”.  Flanders uses the gimp to serve this purpose. Here are diagrams showing the 2 side by side.

Binche/Val from the 18th c.

As with other laces the progression through the 1700s was that laces started out, early in the time period, to have large motifs with only very small spaces between. There was virtually no ground at all. But as the century progressed the ground gradually occupied more and more of the space, until at about 1800 the ground occupied 90% of the surface.

I personally find laces from the 1600s very difficult to deal with. There are certain ones that I just don’t know what to do with. This includes part laces, as well as the straight/continuous laces.  When I talk about laces from c 1650-1700 I call them Early Flemish/Brussels (for the part laces), and Early Binche/Val for the Straight/continuous laces. I am not sure whether any laces that early had gimp. I am not sure when gimp first appeared.  Antwerp dominated during that time period, but Antwerp is just the norther edge of the region on the map. The Antwerp laces also used a variety of grounds. Paris ground was only one of them.

So, for photos –  This includes some LePompe type laces, look near the end. 

So, for what it is worth ….. this is how I use the terms when talking to myself.

Part laces

Flemish or early Flemish/early Brussels – part laces 1650-1700

Brussels – part laces 1700 to early 1800s. Levey uses the term Brabant for the loosely woven, less taught designs, which she attributes to country regions not close to the city.

Duchesse – part laces from that region, last half 19th c into the 20th c.

Straight/continuous laces

Binche/Val -  straight laces from the 18th century, without gimp.

Binche – straight laces Revival Era (late 19th into early 20th c) and modern, using a variety of grounds.

Val – straight laces with square Val ground Revival Era and modern


Mechlin/Flanders – straight laces with gimp from the 1700s using a variety of grounds

Mechlin – revival era and modern  lace using Mechlin ground

Flanders – revival era and modern straight lace using 5 hole ground


I can’t imagine who is actually going to read this whole post. But there it is.

Lorelei Halley


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