Messy Nessy is my favorite Internet Blog. Twice a week, she posts amazing finds.  On Valentines, a subject was The Coded Couture of Antique Lace, by FRANCKY KNAPP a veritable dissertation on lace.

Quoting from the article:

18th century Italian lace panel with mythical creatures

“Lace helped you tell a story by weaving a veritable comic book strip of characters on the cuff of your sleeve. From biblical tales to mythical beasts, eternal flowers and chivalric scenes…. lace craftsmanship seems to have flourished in high and low echelons of society, in common domestic spheres and royal couture alike; “Lace was also made at home, for the decoration of household linen, clothing and other objects,” explain the specialists at the Victoria and Albert Museum. They’d cover your dress, your chalice – even your coffin.

Portrait of Anna Rosina Marquart, née Tanck, wife of the mayor of Lübeck (1642), by Michael Conrad Hirt (1613–1671)

The richer you were, the more extravagant the pieces became. Cuffs and collars of lace could say as much about your wealth as diamond necklaces and gold rings.


“The base of all lacework was – drumroll – netting! Its origins go back thousands of years, and very word “Lace” comes from the Latin root for ensnare, laceum. It wasn’t until the 16th century, says the the National Museum of American History, that lace artistry blew up in Europe with real extravagance and then spread to America.

Threads of silk and precious metals were imported from the East, and lace making competitions and guilds were established. It transcended the space of domestic hobby, and became a way to flaunt your status; churches would commission “panel” pieces akin to antique comic books that played out biblical scenes, and it wasn’t uncommon to find lace embellishments on the coffins and chariots – as well as the cuffs – of aristocrats.”