1912 Remarkable Lyons Notes and Detailed Drawings on Studies in Textiles Including Silk, Velvet, Plush, Taffeta and More

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On offer is a superb manuscript discussion on French textiles and weaving, written in the late 19th century.

The author of the volume is unknown. There is a stamp on the inside front cover: FAB que  de REGISTRES; 29 rue Tupin, LYONS. There are also a few names written on a small torn page at the front of the book.

From the introduction: (in translation):Studies of the Main Textiles…The Silk…Definition: We give the name of silk to the filamentous material secreted by certain [ ] of the family of Saturnine and Tsychides of Bombay and used to the construction of a kind of nest without which the caterpillar locks itself to become a chrysolid”. 

The book then goes into discussions about the various aspects of the silk cocoon, the silk itself, and weaving. This book contains numerous diagrams of weaving patterns. The illustrations are essentially the patterns for the punch cards to create intricate woven textiles. All illustrations are accompanied by detailed explanations. The book is half written in beautiful calligraphy in black ink and the other half are more ‘casual’ notes in pencil accompanied by in-depth drawings. 

Some examples of headings from the manuscript (in translation) are: Banele from India, Velvet, Cut Velvet, Gauze, Unwinding the Cocoons, Spinning Defects, Packaging, Wool, Ironed Plush Double Taffeta Background, and so many more. 


Lyon was the heart of the French and European silk industry. From the 15th and 16th centuries, silk was traded in the great fairs held in the city. In 1540 the French king, Francois I, granted Lyon a total monopoly on raw silk imports into France.

By the 18th century, silk production was the pillar of Lyon’s economy with some 28,000 people employed in the silk industry in 1788. In 1801, the Jacquard loom was invented which only spurred growth in the industry. Fabric dyeing techniques helped drive the development of the chemical industry, which was firmly established by the mid-1800s. By 1870, the silk industry accounted for 75% of Lyon’s total industrial activity, with about 100,000 looms in operation.

The fascinating thing is that the Jacquard loom, so integral to the silk weaving industry, is really a forerunner to today’s computers. The Jacquard loom was developed in 180 by Joseph-Marie Jacquard. Jacquard’s loom utilized interchangeable punch cards that controlled the weaving of the cloth so that any desired pattern could be obtained automatically. These punched cards were adopted by the noted English inventor Charles Babbage as an input-output medium for his proposed analytical engine and were used by the American statistician Herman Hollerith to feed data to his census machine. They were also used as a means of inputting data into digital computers but were eventually replaced by electronic devices.

Today, silk makers have turned to other fibers or shifted to highly specialized skills such as restoration of historic fabrics or supplying haute-couture designers. The Museum of Textiles preserves the history and heritage of Lyon’s silk industry. It preserves the epic history of silk . In fact, there is now a direct train service between China and Lyon running along the old Silk Road.

For a historian, especially one focused on textiles or the silk trade of Europe, this is an outstanding piece of history. For aficionados of haute couture, this is an excellent resource to have on a bookshelf.

This handwritten notebook has a hard, fiber-board type cover which is in very good condition. The document measures 11.25x7.5 inches and contains 184 pages. It is 99% complete. The pages are mostly in good condition and the binding is intact. A few pages have come loose and a few more have had a portion excised. The handwriting is neat and legible. Throughout the document are hand drawn illustrations of a variety of weaving patterns, some in black and white, others coloured. French language. Overall G. 

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