Sunday, July 15, 2012

Dargate Swatch Book

 I own nine vintage fabric sample books. My first and earliest is the Dargate Book....dated c. 1830 by Dr Virginia Gunn, Professor of Costume (retired), University of Akron and Susan Meller, author of Textile Designs.

Dargate Book

When I lecture about my books, I am often asked about their purpose or use. 

By the mid 19th century, there were fabric swatching services available from Paris. These samples were often pasted into ledger books, along with labels to identify the print houses.

I do have a Day Book from an American mill...that shows the patterns printed each day...from 1899-1901.

My favorite page in the Dargate Book
Copyright Margo Krager

The Dargate Book is earlier. Susan Meller thought the samples were from the Mulhouse region of France. My feeling has always been that they are from different mills from that region because there are many different 'styles' and levels of printing skill throughout the book.

I recently came across a wonderful description of swatch books in the collection of the Jouy factory.

' a large collection of printed fabrics ...pasted into ledgers like dried plants in a herbal'....Toiles de Jouy, Riffel and 41.


  1. I have just discovered your blog and am in the process of reading every post. You are a wealth of history and knowledge about fabrics. I find it all so interesting. Your swatch book is a treasure-how fortunate you are to own this piece of Americana history. I would love to attend one of your lectures.

  2. Can't get enough of your Dargate book. What a textile treasure. Have you thought about doing a study center for AQSG seminar about swatch books? I'd love to see the Dargate and others in person. Thanks.
    Sandra in Moab,Utah