I was curious about what research has been done regarding spangles on early lace.

I was reading a copy of Extracts from the Accounts of the Revels at Court in the Reigns of Queen Elizabeth and King James I. The book details what was paid to who for products or services provided for  the revels that were held for royalty.  The accounts also include notes back to the mid-1500s, when Elizabeth was still a princess.  

Lace is frequently mentioned, and along with the lace are charges for spangles, or laces made with spangles.  I had no idea what this might mean, until I was loaned a copy of 2 books from the V&A museum examining some of their extant sixteen and seventeenth century women's clothes.  Sure enough, a few of the garments with lace still partially intact showed the use of spangles - flat oval or teardrop shaped silver or or other metal with a hole punched near one edge that was worked into the lace, usually at the edge on a picot.

I just scanned through Shepherd's An Early Lace Workbook but found no mention of spangles (unless I overlooked something). Dye mentions spangles in Elizabethan Lace, stating it was frequently used on Elizabethan lace.  Earnshaw's Dictionary of Lace only talks about the spangles on bobbins. I can't call to mind at the moment any portraits with spangles, although I've seen ones with beads and/or teardrop pearls.  Is there some scholarship I'm missing regarding spangles, perhaps in Arnold?  (I only have her 4th book.)  Or maybe Dye's newest 3 books?

Thank you

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I just couldn't imagine having to add all those spangles at the start of a project and not damage them while you work however it certainly looks to me like that was how the Layton Jacket lace was worked. Sewing them in would definitely be more appealing but then they wouldn't swing loosely I suppose which would stop them from sparkling so much.  

I would think that spangles were added primarily to metallic laces however I do think that metallics could have been brass as well, like embroideries. I could also imagine spangles being added to polychromatic laces but maybe not white lace. 

I'll be keeping an eye out for suitable spangles from here on in too, I'm not sure I could be bothered making my own like Leslie though.

I'm off to find that portrait of Mary Denton now :o) thanks.
Nancy M. Terselic said:


Depending on where you are adding the spangles, you would either thread them on the bobbins before you begin or add them as you would add beads through sewings.  For edgings, they'd have to be pre-threaded on the bobbins.

I haven't tried playing with spangles yet, but it is definitely on my to-do list.  Step one is to find spangles I'd be happy putting in my lace, step 2 would be finding a picture of some extant lace to copy, although the Sixteen and Seventeenth Century Women's Clothing books from the V&A include not only fabulous close-up photos of the lace, but conjectured prickings!!

I'm beginning to wonder, based on the examples still around, if spangles were primarily added to gold and silver thread lace.  It wouldn't make too much sense to spangle plain linen, I suppose, and the spangles could potentially cut their way out of the lace depending on how much wear the lace was subjected to. 

From what I learned from Gil Dye at convention, the spangles are pre-strung see page 14 in Gold and Silver edgings.

Have been searching for metal (not plastic) sequins. Did find supplier in NY but no teardrop shaped. If anyone finds such, please post.

Yes, I, too, would love some teardrop spangles!! Sue is right, - the spangles or any beads, are threaded onto the thread before making the lace. It was not as hard to use the bobbins with them already threaded on, as I thought it would be.

Mind you - I only had 8 or 9 sequins threaded on, as I was only working small samples each day in class! -- and it was a fabulous class, too. Well worth the travel and every penny spent.(Including buying her 3 new books on the Metallic and other early laces!!!!

I just found this 2014 discussion of spangles and thought you all might be interested in a piece of lace I bought recently. It was in a group of metal laces identified as mid-19th C, and that's what the rest looked like. This piece however is obviously 16/17th C, with spangles!!  Here's a close-up.  If anyone can tell me any features that might date it more precisely, I'd be grateful.

I think you are right about the date, but I can't point to a particular thing that makes me think so. It is reminiscent of LePompe laces, but I don't think I've seen that particular design in LePompe.

Gil Dye is the expert on the Early Laces. I had a beaut class with her one year at IOLI.

For people who are still looking for metal tear drop spangles, Tied to History carries them but when they get them in they sell out quickly.  I got 2 packs the last time they were in stock.  I suggest checking their pages frequently or following them on social media: Tied to History Tear Drop Spangles  They also carry metal Oes and leaf-shaped spangles and gold and silver spools of thread in different weights.  Note: not affiliated with the business, just a satisfied customer.  Their customer service is very good, too.

I have never heard of Tied to History before, but wow! sounds like a treasure trove for Re-enactment people.  Where are they - what country, etc?  I could not see that on their site.

According to the "Contact Us" page on their website, they are located in Sugar Hill, GA, USA.   I first bought thread from them at the SCA event Gulf Wars in MS a few years ago at the recommendation of other bobbin lacers.   (Gulf Wars, surprisingly enough, has a robust bobbin lace community.  I expect when it restarts that the bobbin lacers will return, although I don't know when I'll next make the trek down to it.)

Elizabeth Ligeti said:

I have never heard of Tied to History before, but wow! sounds like a treasure trove for Re-enactment people.  Where are they - what country, etc?  I could not see that on their site.

Just to update you all -- Gil Dye says it's very probably early 1600s, that it's very much like the lace on Jane Lambard's mantle, which is reliably dated to 1620! She cited the clearly handmade spangles as part of the evidence that it is older and not a later lace. She said it could be late 1500s but that the complex patterns seemed to be generally early 1600s.

Re the spangles from India that Tied to History carries: they are good for their intended use in Indian embroidery, but they aren't very much like the European spangles on lace. They are too narrow, much too small a hole, and the end with the hole comes to a sharp point. I'm making some spangles now, by hand, that will look like the spangles on this lace, in both gold-colored metal (brass) and silver-colored (aluminum). I'm hoping to get efficient enough to be able to sell them through my Facebook page -- they will be more expensive because they are time-consuming to make, but they will be historically accurate (except not real silver and gold--unless you supply that for me!! :-). Anyway, here is a picture of my first ones. I'm trying to capture the look of the handmade ones in the lace above. What do you think?

Gosh! Very well done with those spangles. They look terrific.  I look forward to seeing your lace with them on it!  (Post the picture here, please, as I do not do Facebook!!!! )

I love the Early Laces, but as I can only do tatting these days, I am looking at trying to tat Reticella-type lace! (One does not have to be crazy, - but it helps!!!!!!!! :) ) Spangles could be added - same as they add beads to tatting. Hmmmmm!!!! 


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