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Winterthur Digital Collections

About this collection

Textile patterns and designs provide much information on furnishing and dress fabrics.  Included within this collection are swatch books from the Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera, the Ann Flower sketchbook, and pattern books for knitting, embroidery, and weaving from the Rare Book Collection.

 

From the Downs Collection:

 

This online collection includes 18 volumes from the Swatch Book Collection, a large group of bound and unbound items containing a variety of fabric samples including yarn, ribbons, lace, woven portraits, bookmarks, handkerchiefs, and needlework.  Some were created as salesmen's sample books, as a record of the dyeing process, or as weaving instructional manuals. 

  

The 18 volumes cover a span of about 150 years.  Most are from Norwich and Manchester, two important textile manufacturing centers in England, showing America's early reliance on British fabrics.  These include six Norwich pattern books of worsteds and six Manchester pattern books of mostly cottons.   An 1829 French textbook contains  weaving instructions and notes on the fabrication of silks.  Scotland is represented with a late 19th-early 20th century pattern book of cottons from D. & J. Anderson. 

 

Three volumes were produced in America: a late 1790s volume of designs for printed cottons from Archibald Hamilton Rowan and Garner & Co.'s 1890s record book and notes on various cottons.  One non-commercial volume, Geraldine's Scrapbook of Dresses, was created by a mother to record dresses made and worn by her daughter Geraldine between the years 1889-1904. 

 

Only one volume from the early 1800s has no identified manufacturer or country of origin, only initials and about 350 samples of cottons, linens, silks, and more.

 

Separate from the Swatch Book Collection is a sketchbook by Ann Flower (1743-1778) containing designs probably for embroidery.

 

The finding aid for the Swatch Book Collection is available at:

http://findingaid.winterthur.org/html/HTML_Finding_Aids/COL0050new.htm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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