Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013: One Final Collectible

Textile before conservation

Wow! This is my 100th post! And what a great way to end 2013, with a most extraordinary acquisition. Pictured at right is a textile I purchased at auction this year. For a much higher resolution image, please see my website.

What is it? Well, that's really hard to say. It is a cotton textile approximately 23" by 22". The auction catalogue listed it as a "bandana" but that seems improbable. My conservator called it simply a domestic textile. Given its layout, a central medallion with explanatory text facing four directions, perhaps it was intended to be used as a covering for a whist table. Some of the stains seem as though someone placed a damp cup or glass on it.

Detail of central medallion
How was it made? It is a copper engraving on cotton. The technique was developed in Ireland in the 1750s and quickly brought to England. For a comparable example from France, see here. This gives us an early bound on the date of its manufacture.

"Garter" ace of spades
Can it be dated further? The image of the ace of spades at right shows "G III Rex" and a garter design, typical of English cards from the late 18th until the very early 19th century. I suspect that textile dates from the 1790s.

Textile ready for framing
How was it conserved?
My goals were to preserve the textile while being able to display it in a frame. The conservator cleaned of all surface dirt. We decided that any effort to remove stains would risk discoloration and loss of the lovely toning. The conservator mounted a sympathetic support cloth to a stretcher and gently sewed the textile onto the support. In doing so, she was able to eliminate the creases shown in the first image. The repair in the lower right was present when I bought the item. I have not yet framed and hung it, but when framed, the glass will offer UV protection and I'll hang it away from any natural light.

What is the connection to Hoyle? I haven't yet done a detailed transcription of the text to compare it with Hoyle's writing. Nonetheless, it is clear that the Laws of Whist on the border and the odds are taken from Hoyle.

Laws of whist after Hoyle
Bridge odds after Hoyle

I have more analysis to do on this lovely and rare survival. I'll post more as I learn more.

In the mean time, I may take a short break from blogging--I am working on some longer articles for print publication, and I find it difficult to work on both.

Happy New Year!

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