Featured Lace Lesson #17 - Betsey Barbour and darned net lace ("needle run")

Discussion in 'Textiles, Needle Arts, Clothing' started by Northern Lights Lodge, Jun 10, 2020.

  1. Northern Lights Lodge

    Northern Lights Lodge Well-Known Member

    I thought I'd share this interesting collection today. A number of years ago; I made a purchase of a "packet" of lace, linens and information that came from the estate of "Betsey Morton Barbour". The garage sale lady I purchased it from, got it from an estate auction. (Unknown if the estate had anything to do with the Barbour family).

    Included was a very formal Memorial Booklet date 1809-1901 which included her likeness and a VERY flowery tribute to her family lines and her husband's and her own social accomplishments. Some very well used fine linen pillowcases - with names written in ink on each pillowcase. A small hemstitched square.

    A lovely petite unfinished "needle run" cap.
    A lovely set of needle run and bobbin lace cuffs.
    Some accompanying small identification notes.

    IMG_3816 B.JPG
    Card on the pillowcases states: Pillowcase which belonged to my father's sister, Mrs. Fannie Ballard, wife of Lyman Ballard. About 1843. Lydian Graves Bowen. You can see the "inked" name on the pillow case and a number.


    The Memorial booklet states that Betsey was born and raised in N.Y. The family of the American branch of the Morton's of Scotland. She had 3 brothers and 2 sisters. She married John Barbour in 1833 at the age of 24. John was 26. He was a member of the Legislature (it doesn't say which). Sometime prior to 1840, Mr. and Mrs. Barbour moved to Monroe, Michigan and from there to the Battle Creek area. Apparently, at this point in her life she had been unwell; and still continued to deal with her "illness" - although it gives no clue as to what the ailment was. However, the fact that they were now near the Battle Creek Sanitarium (which specialized in cancer treatment) is mentioned. They had 4 children, but only their son Levi L. Barbour, survived. Levi pursued his *education, graduating from the (University of Michigan) State University, studied in Europe and eventually "going to the bar" (becoming a lawyer). Levi married a Miss Hooper of Ann Arbor and settled in Detroit. Betsey and John were "unable to be separated from him" and moved to Detroit. Apparently, John had a severe stomach ailment and passed in October of 1867.

    The booklet goes on to eulogize Betsey in the most elegant and flowery terms.

    Betsey Barbour passed away December 2, 1901.

    *Levi Lewis Barbour received an undergrad and law degree from U of M in the 1860's and later went on to become a University Regent. He was a prominent lawyer and Detroit real estate developer. He accumulated the means to become a philanthropist and devoted to humanitarian and educational causes. He was impressed by the remarkable contributions being made to 3 women in China and Japan who had been trained in medicine at U of M. His gifts to the University eventually included the Barbour Endowed Scholarships for Asian Women, the former Barbour Gymnasium for women and the Betsey Barbour Dormitory. Since 1914 when the Barbour Scholarships were first granted; more than 500 women have received the award.

    Now a bit about the cards and lace. IMG_3826l.JPG

    The card on this lovely set of unworn cuffs states that it is "Darned net" work done by the mother of Levi L. Barbour. Born in 1809 (Betsey). It does not address the narrow hand worked bobbin lace edging!

    Darned net is also known as "needle run". And although this piece is truly, "darned net"... I think most modern lace makers tend to think of "darned net" as being that we discussed in the first lace lesson about filet lace. Where as, the square net is made and then darned.

    In the above example the fine cotton netting is purchased and then the design is hand darned onto/into the netting. This is the technique used to make "Irish Limerick" and other needle run laces. For the most part done by "counting holes in the netting" and then weaving the thread accordingly. I've done it. It crosses your eyes!

    IMG_3816 B (2)j.JPG
    The card on the cap states: "Darned net". This work was done by Mrs. B. M. Barbour Mother of Levi L. Barbour. Auntie Barbour was born in 1809. (Betsey) I don't know if it is a child's cap or meant as a very petite woman's cap; as it seems way to large for an infant's bonnet. It measures 20" around the front edge and 5" wide. The back panel is 4" wide x 6" high.

    I would have LOVED for the pieces that went to the other 2 cards to have been included; but alas... the items and cards had parted ways somewhere along the last 100 years.

    The first card states: Infants dress made by my father's sister. Mrs. Fannie Ballard. This dress was made for her only child Francis (?) Ballard; born 1843. Lydien Graves (?) Bowen.

    The second card states: Handkerchief given to my mother in 1894. It was made by Auntie Barbour, mother of Levi L. Barbour in her 85th year. Lydien Graves Bowen

    I did make a call to the Barbour Residence Hall; and heaven's only knows whom I spoke with; but they seemed very uninterested in the items. I may try to contact someone at another point in time. I thought it would make a cool permanent display in the hall.

    If that falls on deaf ears; it was suggested that the Bentley Historical Library in Ann Arbor might be interested.

    OR who knows; maybe I'll try and sell it. For the time being they shall remain in my collection as they are such lovely examples of "needle run" and I love the historical aspect of it!

  2. Aquitaine

    Aquitaine Is What It IS! But NEVER BORED!

    Hi @Northern Lights Lodge, I just went back over my OLD postings and found 2 that referenced a bunch of antique handkerchiefs, in particular, and was wondering if, when you got some spare time (IF you get some 'spare time'!!) if you could go over them and tell me if they, for the most part are machine or hand made lace??? Please disregard the large linens on one of the links....the handkerchiefs are in BOTH of the links....there are a few which I especially love!!!! One in particular is from Ireland with harps in the corners!!! But some are just SO delicate.....Thank you SO MUCH IF you are able to do so.....if not, I completely understand!!! (I JUST realized they went back to Dec. 5 & 6, 2016!!!!) The 2 links are below:


    Houseful likes this.
  3. Christmasjoy

    Christmasjoy Well-Known Member

    GORGEOUS Lace !! ... Joy. :):):)
  4. Northern Lights Lodge

    Northern Lights Lodge Well-Known Member

    Hi @Aquitaine,
    What a lovely collection! I've written responses on the end of each link. They are just delightful! It is possible that the ones from Ireland are hand "needle run" Limerick; but I'd need a front and back close up to confirm. So very dainty!

    I'm glad to share! I do love those tone on tone damask pieces! Oh, to "set" a table with linens like that and the china and crystal to go with it. Today's fam just doesn't seem to appreciate such things! Sigh!

    Send on any additional thoughts or pics. Glad to look them over.
    Figtree3, Aquitaine and Houseful like this.
  5. Aquitaine

    Aquitaine Is What It IS! But NEVER BORED!

    WONDERFUL!! Thank you SO much @Northern Lights Lodge!!! And I just noticed my FAVE ISN'T in the batch, for whatever reason.....I'll remember to post both front & back!!!
  6. Northern Lights Lodge

    Northern Lights Lodge Well-Known Member

    LOL... I wondered! I looked high and low for one with harps on it and couldn't figure out which one you meant! I'll look forward to seeing it!

  7. Houseful

    Houseful Well-Known Member

    Hi Leslie,
    For the cap to be finished would it just need the bottom edge hemmed or overlocked?
    Northern Lights Lodge likes this.
  8. Northern Lights Lodge

    Northern Lights Lodge Well-Known Member

    Hi @Houseful
    Yes, _if_ I were inclined to do it. I'd probably do some sort of similar netting binding along the bottom edge of the lace. But, I'm unlikely to finish it. It won't "unravel". After reading her history; she probably didn't finish it as she was ill so often... so I feel like it's "unfinishedness" is part of it's history.

    Houseful likes this.
  9. Northern Lights Lodge

    Northern Lights Lodge Well-Known Member

    LACE LESSON #18 - Battenberg / Battenburg Laces

    It was suggested that all the Lace Lessons be pinned to the top for easy reference. Apparently, the result of that is that any additional Lace Lesson's must be added on to this last post. So here we are.

    Today I'm sharing a bit about Battenberg/ Battenburg Lace

    Ultimately, this machine tape based, hand assembled lace found it's way to parlors in the late 1800's.

    It is said that Queen Victoria named the popular lace for her Son-In-Law as the first "Duke of Battenburg". However, it is also said; that the name for this American lace was chosen in honor of a wedding of the Battenberg family, which occurred about the time a patent for making the lace was applied for in Washington. Perhaps both are true and correct; perhaps neither.

    At any rate: No matter how you spell it; it was a fun, fairly quickly worked, portable, inexpensive, easily available way for ladies of the day to create lacy trims, table covers, decor, and lace wear for themselves and others. Quiet evenings, rainy afternoons, ladies sharing tea and "leisure" time saw dozen's of Battenburg/Battenberg items being produced by our Turn of the Century ladies.

    I, at some point, ran into this large stash of patterns and tapes.

    My general observations:
    Most were printed on a glazed cotton organdy - usually pink. However, a couple are off white and one is pale green. The color would allow better contrast between the pattern and the tapes and joining stitches. Quite a few have a mend of some sort in the fabric (patch or splice).

    Most are commercially printed; however, there are a few which are hand inked. Whether, the pattern was hand drawn/ designed by the lacemaker or traced from a friend's pattern is unknown.

    Some of the patterns are quite crude and chunky; lacking much artful grace and others are quite sweet!

    Prices and "braid" yardage amounts are often stamped on the design.

    IMG_lace 1.JPG
    This one is quite a pretty piece....and interesting when you study it. At first glance, it is obviously not symmetrical. My first thought was that it was an Art Nouveau era doily. And it may indeed be so. The variety of stitches and fillings in this one are one of the most interesting and varied that I've seen. It would have been cool to have found part of it worked. Alas!

    However, here we have one, that has been nearly completed! Again, it has that Art Nouveau feeling to the design. Quite pleasing I think!
    IMG_lace 12.JPG
    This is a close up of one of the corners... You can see that she didn't always follow the penciled in filling suggestions... for what ever reason. Her stitches are quite tidy and seem to be well executed!
    IMG_lace 2.JPG

    I think this one is interesting. The big light patch on the lower left, which actually repairs a split in the fabric. The patch is basted on. This matched collar pattern appears to be hand inked; perhaps traced off a stamped original. The inking on the right; does not match the penciled in stitches on the left, however.
    IMG_lace 3.JPG

    Here is another partially worked example. This one has very narrow decorative tape. When Battenburg/Battenberg has these very narrow decorative tapes, it seems to be called a "Princess" lace design.
    IMG_lace 6.JPG

    The filling stitches are quite plain. Since the tape is decorative; perhaps they toned down the filling stitches. It is also interesting to note; that the lace maker changed the direction of the petal shape tape in TWO of the areas...making them go straight across the area instead of a zig-zag. (Compare in the above photo).
    IMG_lace 7.JPG

    This is truly a fragment; basted to an obviously hand inked design; but interesting in as much as it is worked in black tape. I've never found a completed black Battenburg/Battenberg piece... but this tape, and the yardage which is in a later photo; rather proves that it was made!
    IMG_lace 8.JPG

    An interesting, "busy", little corner piece.
    IMG_lace 9.JPG

    And last; a photo of some of the tapes. The one in the top left states: Black Silk Battenberg Braid - Art 3037 No 6 Warranted 36 yards. Made in Germany. Handwritten in pencil is 2.00 pr yd. That seems quite spendy! But, I have no way of knowing if that was a much later price.

    The bottom right corner card states: Made in England - 36 yards and 60 yard(?). The other two give no helpful information.
    IMG_lace 10.JPG

    I've worked some modern Battenberg/Battenburg pieces and they do work up quickly and are quite pretty. The variety of filling stitches is wide - from the simple to the more complicated. Modern supplies are available on line.

    In essence; the tapes are basted to the pattern. The filling stitches are worked and then the basting stitches are removed. Straightforward and fun. Quickly worked and yet very lacy.

    Stay safe; stay well.
  10. Figtree3

    Figtree3 What would you do if you weren't afraid?

    You could try the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan:

    Or possibly the UM Libraries' Special Collections Research Center could direct you to somebody at the university or elsewhere who would be interested:
  11. Northern Lights Lodge

    Northern Lights Lodge Well-Known Member

    Thanks @Figtree- one of these days I’ll contact them! There is also a large lace collection at Greenfield Village... another possibility!
    Cheerio, Leslie
    Figtree3 likes this.
  12. Any Jewelry

    Any Jewelry Well-Known Member

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