For discussions of lace history and lace identification.  You can post a photo into a comment box for a lace you want to discuss.  Bobblin lace history.  About historic lace. Kinds of lace.  Distinguish types of lace.

We can identify a piece of lace for you, but we need good detail.  At least one photo with this kind of detail is necessary.  Otherwise we are just guessing.  A shot of the whole thing is useful because that shows us the style.  Style gives us clues to date and possibly geographical origin.  But we need the detail shot to tell us how it was made.

Members: 138
Latest Activity: May 25

Examples + Resources


Jean Leader's new website, different types of lace -

To compare needle lace, tatting and crochet, Kathleen Minniti's sampler.

My antique lace boards on Pinterest 

My collection of boards on Pinterest 

Jo Edkins lace collection online:

Laces compared:

A university based website specializing in the social history attached to lacemaking


 Bobbin lace    antiquebobbinlace     bobbinlace3     Needle lace    needlelace2 

For recognizing Swedish bobbin lace:

Tatting     tatting2   tatting3      

Filet lace    filetlace2    filetlace3   filet lace4    Buratto 

Sol lace   sollace2   sol lace3

Knitted lace    knittedlace2     Crochet lace        Irish crochet lace      IrishCrochet2      


Bobbin tape lace  bobbin tape lace 2   

Mixed tape lace-machinetape      Romanian needlepoint lace  


Embroidery on tulle-needlerun      Embroidery on tulle-tambour        Carrickmacross  



This is what it takes to make a cloth stitch strip with a machine. I don't know which machine this is. ;

Chemical lace   ChemicalLace2  chemical lace3     chemical lace4     

See this for a technical explanation of the chemical lace process.

Barmen machine lace        Raschel machine lace     Leavers machine

machine1 (not sure what machine) a booklet which purports to distinguish machine from hand made laces. Some of the diagrams of typical machine structural elements are quite good. But too many of the comparison photos do not have enough detail to verify whether they are in fact machine made or hand made. The photos don't all show the individual threads. Still, the booklet is useful for the diagrams and descriptions of the various machine laces.




The Koon collection CD is a collection of images from the Eunice Sein Koon
Collection of Lace donated to IOLI by Ms. Koon. Ms. Koon was the editor of
Lace Craft Quarterly and a collector of lace.  It is not related to the
Minnesota collection to the best of my knowledge.  The CD is a series of
Powerpoint slides organized as the collection pieces are numbered.  There
are approximately 100 pieces of various types of lace in the Koon
collection.  Pictures from the CD could be copied and pasted into another
Powerpoint presentation, or the images could be used to request pieces of
lace from the collection for study by IOLI members.  Policy for use of this
lace is described on p. 58 of the IOLI Member Handbook. -- Jo Ann Eurell


The IOLI - Internation Organization of Lace, Inc. has a study box of lace fragments that members can borrow.  

(I am searching for a link)

IOLI also has a lending library for members' use

A site with good photos of high quality antique laces: ;

Discussion Forum

Lacemaking history 6 Replies

Please, does anyone know for sure how lace tokens were used in Great Britain in the 1700s?I have read theories that the tokens were given in lieu of governmental coinage due to a coin shortage, but…Continue

Started by Laurie Elliott. Last reply by Laurie Waters May 13.

Mystery technique 6 Replies

Someone has contacted the New England Lace Group to ask for help identifying the technique used to make a shawl, the fiber used and how best to repair it. The first problem is actually figuring out…Continue

Started by Jill Hawkins. Last reply by Lorelei Halley Administrator Feb 10.

History of Lacemaking 3 Replies

A friend has been asked to make a presentation about the history of lacemaking. She asked about reference books for her preparation.  My suggestion is An Early Lace Workbook by Rosemary…Continue

Started by Sally Olsen. Last reply by Lorelei Halley Administrator Jan 31.

Identification of two pieces of lace 27 Replies

My sister-in-law bought two pieces of lace while in Bize (southern France). She wants me to identify them. I assumed to start with that they are machine made, but I've looked carefully at them and…Continue

Started by Jo Edkins. Last reply by Jo Edkins Oct 13, 2019.

Comment Wall


You need to be a member of Identification-History to add comments!

Comment by Devon Thein on May 6, 2020 at 6:25pm

Scaled photo... no

Here is a photo, the piece is 10 and 3/4 inches wide. So, these are rather small physicallly, but hugely enlarged photographically. 

Comment by Laura Sandison on May 6, 2020 at 6:14pm

Yes! You worded it better. I'll try it tonight, but I think it would work perfectly. Really want to try this little section out! Is there a scaled photo for size?

Comment by Devon Thein on May 6, 2020 at 5:23pm

Here are some picots from the Giant Plait piece. They look like Gros point picots, but I think you could do them by taking one thread out, put a pin maybe, then loop back with something like a blanket stitch, much as Laura says. 

Comment by Laura Sandison on May 6, 2020 at 5:18pm

And to go to Kim's comment about free hanging braiding, I think of kumihimo...

Comment by Laura Sandison on May 6, 2020 at 5:16pm

I really think these are bobbin lace. The tapes all seem to be bobbin lace. Needle lace would be too much weaving, and a couple of the tapes require a more complicated plaiting that you would make with bobbins. The piece with needle made looking picot may be just a different style of picot using techniques from needle lace. It wouldn't be too difficult to half hitch along the single thread using a bobbin, rather than a needle. 

Shaping isn't an issue, the French still make lovely crescent shapes. The complication, to me, comes when you join them together to create the fleur de lis shapes, as well as using 3 (or more when joined!) pair to create the tally, rather than the 2 pair we are used to. For straight lengths, like the one marked "Yikes, another one", there isn't a need to pin it other than the end, so they would work up pretty quickly. 

And then, there is the possibility that the "curves" on some of the shaped tally-looking pieces are really just turning stitches. Think Milanese. There are so many pair running through there that it seems odd to work the entire shape as a tally. To create lovely points, they then have worked a tally at the end. I've often thought of trying this myself. I know I can't be inventing something new. 

Just some random thoughts, jacked up on too much coffee today!

Comment by Karen Thompson on May 6, 2020 at 2:56pm

To me, the picots seem to look like the needle made picots in Gros point, or am I wrong?  I have always thought the "bird" piece at the Smithsonian was bobbin lace, but maybe not???  The braided ladder-like tape beside the bird in the close-up Devon posted below seems bobbin made to me, but then the picots?

In the third picture, some of the tapes look like they are woven - by needle or bobbins - on the diagonal. I don't recall having seen that before. It certainly would make them more flexible. 

What a fascinating topic.  Mrs. Pinchot, who donated the "bird piece", bought and donated samples good lace. Many have been mended and are in bad shape, like this poor collar, but really interesting for their technique

Comment by Kimberly Davis on May 6, 2020 at 2:04pm

I had not refreshed and seen your new post.  I have been calling these giant tallies, going in line with giant plaits.  But, I am not totally fixed on that name and have not published it anywhere as of yet. 

Comment by Kimberly Davis on May 6, 2020 at 2:00pm

     The giant tally weave we are talking about has an advantage in metal threads that is not seen in these pieces.  When it is worked in metal, it is easier to work and less destructive on the threads when you work in this manner.  I often do the same in wire.  Additionally, you can use a larger thread to do the weaving and get more bang for your buck, which was a big consideration in the construction of the metal thread pieces.  It is the same idea when a heavier silk thread is used in silk with some point ground. 

     I agree, I have seen tallies like this worked with a needle.  However, coupled with moving directly into the bobbin lace motifs, it would seem unlikely  to me.

     I have often wondered if this is where the concept of tapes came from, if it was quick to realize that cloth stitch would get it done more quickly in fiber threads.  When I think about someone making one of these patterns early  on, I would expect they were well versed in various types of braiding.  For a practiced braider, getting such even tension would be in their muscle memory, and probably not the hot mess it would be for one of us.  Of course, this is theoretical.   I have tried it.  It is easy in metal thread because of the memory the metal holds on the bends.  It is more challenging in fiber, but can be done.  If you look at later metal pieces common in Germany in the 1800's, this technique was alive and well.

     From all of the pieces I have studied, I am convinced that most early lacemakers were in a mindset of braiding and not of our modern foundation; CTC.  When I look at pieces like this I look at them from the point of view with bobbins and being produced on a flat surface.  I also look at them from the point of view of a braider who is used to handling many free ends or even loops, not inhibited by the flat surface.  While there are only so many possibilities for how threads interlace, there are a lot more tension tricks and possibilities when you are moving the threads without the limitation of the flat surface.  To achieve most of the laces I have re-constructed, I have to tension the bobbins in such a way that I would surely be cited by the modern lace  police.  The problem is less pronounced on a bolster pillow. 

I hope to have some time this weekend to go spelunking in the needle lace  photos of various museums and see if I can find any.  This is something I  have been wanting to do for a very long time.  I am finally in a place to do so.  I  have only one lingering project I need to finish before I  can do that, which is very motivating!

Comment by Devon Thein on May 6, 2020 at 1:39pm

More questions.

How would you tension these long tallies or tapes since there are no pin holes. 

How would you describe this kind of work with the tally-like tape so that people looking for it would find it? What is the word for lace like this?

Comment by Devon Thein on May 6, 2020 at 1:23pm

What an interesting conversation about the strange lace piece I have encountered. Jo Ann believes it is needle lace. I think that is understandable as you could achieve this effect or something like it with needle weaving, as in Halas lace. But, the fact that the tape can transition seamlessly into a plait based structure, see first photo, makes me think it is bobbin lace. I think the long tapes are made the way we make tallies. They look like tallies in that they are “weft faced”, namely the warp is totally covered by the weft or worker thread. (Linen stitch is a double weft weave, two threads going back and forth. The tally is single weft, one thread is going back and forth)
The piece in the Smithsonian that Karen draws our attention to is fantastic, a real tour de force in this technique. Again, I am questioning whether it might be needle woven, but it too has plait based sections. While the bird has parts that look like tallies, weft faced, it also has areas that look like a very even weave. Are these made the same way as the tally tapes? In tallies you are constantly tensioning and pressuring the worker to compact. I guess you could do the same movements, but without the extreme tensioning in order to create the impact of a woven fabric.
It was this fabric type effect that caused me to think about the flower pot lace that I posted next on Ning. This is a piece with both the compacted tally type tape and also a more even weave type of tape. These transition into bobbin lace grounds effortlessly in this piece as well.
The final piece that I posted was one with three flowers made in tally technique. This one even has a pair, or sometimes a braid which migrates through the tally to other tallies.
Returning to the bird piece that Karen drew our attention to, I am enthralled by this portion of it where an even weave worked like a curved tally separates at the eye hole, and turns into a Giant Plait before turning into a pointed tally in the beak.
I am including a photo of the very old piece that was made with tapes and motifs which were all plaited, or woven diagonally, or whatever you want to call it. (I call it a Giant Plait.)
Kim’s insight that the elongated tally may be a very old way of making tapes seems very likely. Karen’s piece illustrates the incredible skill of the old lacemakers as they move through these various structures. These were categorized as bobbin lace, by the way. 


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