CharacteristicsA continuous straight bobbin lace Ground of plaited bars Design: simple geometric with circles rosettes of radiating wheat ears (like spokes of a wheel) curving 'divided' trails (like a railway track with spaces between sleepers) Edge-scalloped with six-pin form (like the nine-pin border of Bedfordshire and Maltese) The name 'Clunys' means 'leaves' referring to the elongated wheat ears in the design.
This lace is reputed to have been based on cutwork (reticella). Originating in France in 19th C using designs based on the 16th C lace of the Museum of Antiquities at the Hotel Cluny, Paris and adapted by the lacemakers of Le Puy. It was produced extensively in France and Italy. Reproductions were made in England where it was known as Bedfordshire Cluny and also in Buckinghamshire.
A heavy lace, much of which was manufactured, used more for furnishing than for fashion, and reaching its highest popularity in the 1920s.
Cluny laces were copied by the Leavers lace machine from 1850 and by the Barmen machine in 1872. Often Torchon and Cluny designs were combined.
A Cluny style lace, made with a very strong white thread called Ramie, is produced in the Philippines and China.
Earnshaw, P. A Dictionary of Lace, Shire publications, 1982
Earnshaw, P. The Identification of Lace, Shire publications, 1994
Gwynne, J. The Illustrated Dictionary of Lace, Batsford, 1997
Toomer, H. Lace: A Guide to Identification of Old Lace, Batsford, London, 1989
© Valerie Cavill 2011