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: 141
Latest Activity: on Wednesday

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

ID request for the black lace on the shoulder 12 Replies

There is an email thread I'm on, someone asked for an ID for the lace in this portrait.…Continue

Started by Mary Mangan. Last reply by Mary Mangan on Wednesday.

Piece of old lace 7 Replies

I posted this somewhere else, because I didn't know this group existed. Here 'tis: An old piece of unknown provenance. Needlelace. That's all I know. I do not remember where I got it except that I…Continue

Started by Claudia Crowley. Last reply by Nancy A. Neff Apr 16.

Old Dresser Scarf? 7 Replies

My Aunt Ida who is now 100 gave me what was probably once used as a dresser scarf.  She does not know anything about it other than it was amoung old family items.  The linen is hemmed to about 19.5"…Continue

Started by Sally Olsen. Last reply by Trinity Apr 4.

Bobbin lace in Saxony? 2 Replies

I have a kind of holiday-related lace question.When I was putting up my…Continue

Started by Mary Mangan. Last reply by Mary Mangan Dec 14, 2020.

Comment Wall


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

Comment by Beth Schoenberg on January 26, 2012 at 3:05am

Oh, thank you, Paula, I for one would love to see them in the Photos here!  "Outtakes," extras, and all!  I don't subscribe to The Bulletin at the moment (long story ... intercontinental moves ... husbands with killer diseases ... unemployment of self & assorted kids ... grumblemutter ...), so I have to find someone here who gets it who might lend me their copy.  Kudos to you for tackling such a project!  Sometimes it's really good to brake to a screaming halt & take a weird sideways turn.  I hope you ended up with something really good from it?  It sounds fascinating.

As a collector, I'm working up to investing in at least a small piece of Chancay gauze to add to my lace collection.  It's gonna be awhile before I get there.  I've been very curious about what other lace-makers and lace collectors think of these textiles.  I haven't yet had the time to investigate much more than what I've referenced above, and I'm not a weaver (or acquainted with the technologies), but the product made in the Chancay Culture looks close enough to meet my interests.

I have to confess that I, too, prefer a more generous definition of "lace", one that includes unconventional "fibers", scale, and end uses -- though I was only half-joking about including "practical uselessness" as part of the definition.  OK, OK, "ornamental", maybe, instead of "useless."   :-D

... And I know exactly what you mean, Devon, about pitying the folks who make "so many textiles that are not lacelike."  I'm passionate about making needle lace -- but I battle a little temptation every time I see a really good quilt show -- or museum-quality blown glass -- or really excellent artisan jewelry ... I'm up to needing about 18 lifetimes, at least. 

Well said, Patty.  Especially that last paragraph.  It reminds me of what G. K. Chesterton once said (wrote?):  "There are no rules of architecture for a castle in the clouds."    :-D                                         

Comment by Patty Dowden on January 25, 2012 at 2:37pm

Well, there are well-defined laces with long histories and because they were intended to be lace and are made in a certain way that are accepted as lace.  I think the principal distinction of lace is that it is ornament.  So any stringy thing with holes for the purpose of ornament makes the cut for lace with me.

My personal  description of my infatuation with all things lace I call "string and a hole." No holes, no lace. The string can be any thread or long, flexible material or perforated material.  The method can be bobbin lace, macrame, tatting, knitting, crochet, sprang, naalbinding (The Lace Museum in Sunnyvale, CA has a drop dead gorgeous shawl in delicate open-work naalbinding.)  or anything else that fits the description that I haven't seen yet.

The further you get from the well-defined historical western laces, the more ambiguous the term lace gets, but I think that ornamental textiles (strings!) with incorporated spaces is as limited as I can get.  So my ideas about lace are rather accepting.

One cannot usually master every different kind of ornamental strings and holes and a lace organization has to respect the knowledge and the skills of the people who they call upon to help develop the skills of their members.  But I can't help thinking that looking at lace as a closed subject is a loss.  An organization that loses its focus, soon ceases to be an organization.  But there should be a little wiggle room for the odd, peculiar, spare and strange.

Lace is art and art has the bad habit of transforming itself every so often, especially when we start to think we know exactly what it is.  I think that part of the charm of lace is its elusiveness.

Comment by Lorelei Halley Administrator on January 25, 2012 at 2:35pm

Paula: it would probably be best to put your photos into our general PHOTO section, and then add another comment box here with links to the photos. (Use the link button above this box--2st one).  If the photos were yours originally, you still own the copyright and can put wherever you want.  Sometimes photos which are put directly into a comment box become distorted -- the length and width ratios don't remain the same.  I don't know why it happens, I've written to ning but they haven't solved the problem.  But if you post the image into PHOTOS first, the distortion doesn't happen.

Comment by Paula Harten on January 25, 2012 at 2:24pm

I am not sure where to jump in on this discussion.  Perhaps, for those who do not receive the IOLI Bulletin, I could put up some photos, since they are mine.  Should I attach them here or in the main photo area?  I would like to share some that were not in the Bulletin.  Thank you to those who have been interested.

As to the discussion of  Chancay lace, I have referenced a book I own, "Textiles of ancient Peru and Their Techniques"  by   Raoul D'Harcourt.  This book shows examples of PreColumbian Peruvian textiles using nearly all the lace techniques of today.  The techniques for doing the gauze are not definitely known.  D'H. makes a  guess, but modern Guatemalan women do it differently, according to the editor.  I guess the warp threads are fixed to create the tension needed. The warp is twisted before and after the weft, but can return to plain weave, unlike in sprang. The animals, such as the birds on the piece I have photographed here in Oregon, are embroidered around the netting and open spaces created in the weaving,

My personal definition of lace is much like Pat Earnshaw's in her dictionary of lace.  I would include wire or other fibers in the fabric that must have holes that form an essential part of the design and made by special movements of the fibers.  This is why I tackled the recreation of the lace found in Spiro, OK.  Even though I have no way of knowing whether they created a pillow and used "pins" or it was made by manipulating the threads hanging on a frame, I wanted to know the "special movements of the fibers"  Gee - should have put that in the article!  I will never be finished with this project, I guess.

If the members are interested, I will put some photos of the Chancay gauze and the Spiro lace up tomorrow.  I am putting them in an acceptable format.

Comment by Devon Thein on January 23, 2012 at 10:34am

The article, which is well-researched shows an image of a Chancay gauze weaving, but deals more with a textile found in Spiro Mound, which is in Oklahoma. The writer recreates, using bobbins, the textile which is preserved in the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History. The textile looks like a torchon ground with holes in it and is at an archeaolgical site of the Mississippian culture, which is pre-Columbian.

It seems to me that the Spiro textile has to have been made without a fixed warp. It is unclear to me whether the Chancay gauze is made without a fixed warp. With a term as unclear as "lace", I suppose one cannot become too picky, but personally, I like to leave fixed warp weaving of open work textiles to weavers to gush over because I pity them for making so many textiles that are not lacelike. But that is just my personal eccentricity.

Comment by Beth Schoenberg on January 23, 2012 at 10:04am

Oooh, really fresh material!  Have I stumbled on a trend at the ground floor?   :-)

Yeah, defining lace, that seems to be the problem -- whether to limit or not to limit the inclusion of *any* openwork fabrics, and why and when, etc.   Mmm, fabrics?  Does that mean only openwork panels made with flexible, more-or-less organic fibers?  But then, what about the Lace Fences, which are very clearly lace, but made with heavy steel wire?   Sigh.

I think I like best the definition proposed by (I believe) Rosemary Shepherd -- paraphrasing, I'm sure:  that lace is any fabric where the spaces between the threads are as important as the arrangement of the threads themselves.  That leaves a whole lot of scope for "lace" design and production -- both a blessing and a curse.  Probably real handy for exhibit designers and contest organizers, though.   :-D

Then again, lace in the traditional sense is one of the most absolutely useless textiles ever invented anywhere.  Maybe we should automatically eliminate from the definition any "lace" that actually has a practical function?  Chancay gauze could still be included, since they are only ever found in funerary contexts -- so they're just about as practical as lappets and lace shawls ...

When I first came across Chancay "lace," it was a text description, no pictures, but was described as, more or less, a type of weaving that produced lace.  Well, that sounded close enough to bobbin lace for me, so of course I had to follow this up!   Later on, I came across more technical descriptions that called the fabrics Chancay gauze and never used the word "lace" even once -- but the accompanying photos showed something suspiciously, deliciously lace-y looking.  Actually, many of the photos were on online auction sites, which are notorious nowadays for being unwilling to describe items in much detail at all, for fear of getting it wrong (expensively).  Not surprisingly, the pieces on offer were at the more elaborate end of the intricacy scale;  some Chancay gauzes are really fairly simple.

I certainly will look for this issue of The Bulletin.  If the lace described is *North* American, where was it made?  And does it resemble Chancay gauze in any way?

Comment by Devon Thein on January 23, 2012 at 7:45am

Dear Beth,

There is an article in the Winter 2012 issue of The Bulletin, International Old Lacers, Inc.called Recreating a Pre-Columbian North American Lace by Paula Harten that you might find interesting.

Lace has never been a particularly well defined term. Is it something, no matter what, made with lace technique, or is it a white, openwork textile, regardless of construction technique, that can be employed for the uses that European fashion history has used lace for?  

Comment by Beth Schoenberg on January 23, 2012 at 2:37am

23 January, 2012

OK, here's one for the lace history buffs:  if a lace fabric is woven, and really looks like lace, but not made with bobbins, is it still lace?

Check out (in the near future from this writing) the fragment of coloured net on eBay (this sold a couple of weeks ago), item number 230726189927 .   It sure looks like lace, bird figures and ground and all, but it's considered to be weaving -- and historians aren't sure exactly how it was made.  It's called Chancay gauze;  it's pre-Columbian Peruvian;  and it wasn't made after about 1300 CE (AD).  Most Chancay gauze is geometric in design, but there are plenty of examples of figures incorporated into the designs (my favorites are the cats -- lots of cats).

The best online resource for finding out more seems to be the blog (and website, though that seems to be down at the moment) of a Danish textile artist who spent some time in Peru studying all sorts of textiles, including the gauzes.  One of her blog entries is at:

Another is at:

There's a downloadable article, with an abstract at:

And if you want to see photos of these gauzes, you can look on:   (At this writing, there is at least one panel with an allover-cats design.)  Or just search for Chancay gauze images.

Anyway, they're all very interesting, and LACY, even if we shouldn't include them in the definition.  Or should we?


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