TRC Blog: Textile Moments

Hand & Lock, London

The London based firm of Hand & Lock has been producing embroideries for court and military uniforms, and diplomatic and religious garments, since 1767.

From their current premises at 86 Margaret Street, Fitzrovia, London, they are still actively involved in producing and teaching embroidery, especially with gold and silver thread.

TRC has long been collaborating with Hand & Lock, and they recently donated a series of replicas of insignia for chivalric orders, some of which worn by the famous British admiral, Horatio Nelson (see here for more information). The latest issue of their journal, Hand & Lock, contains an article about the TRC (pp. 83-86). A PdF version of the article can be downloaded here.

To purchase this issue of Hand & Lock, please go to the attached web address.


Horatio Nelson

Replicas of embroidered insignia of chivalric orders, made by Hand & Lock.

Replicas of embroidered insignia of chivalric orders, made by Hand & Lock.

On Tuesday, 6th August 2019, Gillian Vogelsang wrote:

Yesterday the TRC received a parcel from the embroidery firm of Hand & Lock. They have been based in London since the late 18th century and are a major force in the world of elite hand and machine embroidery.

For the last few years the TRC and Hand & Lock have been working together to support research into the history of embroidery and as part of this co-operation they donated various embroidered British insignia, to be used in Volume 3 of the Encyclopedia of Embroidery, which is being published by Bloomsbury, London.

Four of the insignia are replicas of the insignia worn by the British admiral, Horatio Nelson (1758-1805), who died at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. The Orders are:

The Order of St. Joachim (top left) was instituted in 1755 by a group of German nobles, in order to promote religious tolerance in Europe. Horatio Nelson accepted the Grand Cross of the Order in 1802. The insignia of the Order is made of gold and silver metal thread with a silk embroidered centre on white raycott. It is surrounded by a raised green velvet garter with gold smooth purl lettering edged with gold pearl purl. The four points of the cross are worked with silver spangles caught down with silver rough purl.

The Most Honourable Order of the Bath (top centre) was instituted in 1725 by King George I of the United Kingdom. The insignia of this Order has a central crest that depicts three crowns in gold and silver wire embroidery, which is surrounded by a raised red velvet garter with gold wire lettering.

Rear-Admiral Horatio Nelson (1758-1805), by Lemuel Francis Abbott (1799). He is wearing, among others, the insignia of the Order of the Crescent; the Order of Saint Ferdinand and Merit; and the Order of the Bath (National Maritime Museum Greenwich).

Rear-Admiral Horatio Nelson (1758-1805), by Lemuel Francis Abbott (1799). He is wearing, among others, the insignia of the Order of the Crescent; the Order of Saint Ferdinand and Merit; and the Order of the Bath (National Maritime Museum Greenwich).

The Order of the Crescent (middle left) was instituted by the Ottoman sultan, Selim III, to honour Horatio Nelson for his defeat of the French fleet at the Battle of the Nile (1798). The insignia was worn by high ranking officers and others involved in the Napoleonic Wars. It has a raised midnight blue velvet centre depicting a silver plaited embroidered star and crescent moon. The surround is edged with gold wire. In the most recent issue of the Hand & Lock journal (summer 2019), Alice Murrell has writtten a short paper on the Order of the Crescent.

The Order of St. Ferdinand and of Merit (middle centre) was instituted in 1800 by the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. The insignia of the Order is made with gold and silver metal thread with a silk embroidered centre depicting St. Ferdinand in a blue and white silk cloak and clutching a silver wire sword. The surrounding points of the crest features silver spangles.

In addition, Hand & Lock kindly donated a badge for a Royal Postillion (middle right), the man who rides or walks with one or more horses pulling royal carriages or the hearse during state funerals. The badge is normally worn on the left sleeve. Also included in the parcel from Hand & Lock was a military cap badge (bottom).


Visiting some museums in Jerusalem

On Tuesday, 30th July 2019, Gillian Vogelsang wrote:

Last Sunday we visited the Holocaust Museum (Yad Vashem), a moving experience because it was so personal. It was about a generation and more of people who vanished. Many of the chronological themes were explained via objects such as photographs, travel documents, letters, a battered watch or a broken toothbrush. Other stories were told via garments, such as a blouse taken from a mound that was recognised as having belonged to a friend and neighbour, a pit full of shoes, yellow Stars of David, and most telling, the blue and white striped garments worn in the camps. This museum really shows how clothing can be used to tell hard stories and pass on messages and emotions.

Read more: Visiting some museums in Jerusalem


Thoughts in Jerusalem

Street scene in the Jerusalem bazaar, 29 July 2019. Photograph Willem Vogelsang.

Street scene in the Jerusalem bazaar, 29 July 2019. Photograph Willem Vogelsang.

On Monday, 29th July, Gillian Vogelsang wrote from Jerusalem:

The last two weeks have been quite a time, both at the TRC Leiden itself and for myself. It has included the Out of Asia programme in Leiden, between 14 and 19 July. A few days later I took part in a symposium at Leicester University about science and archaeological/historical textiles, and now with Willem we have a few days in the old city of Jerusalem (a holiday, of sorts).

A theme of all these events, which became clear to me the last few days, has been the passing down of knowledge and community identity through crafts, rather than solely by the written word (a skill that was long in the hands of a few, elite men).

It has left me a little sad, as it is clear that conflicts, changes in communication (spending time on telephones and watching tv), technology (computer driven machines) and that dreaded word globalization have broken the lineage of generations of craft knowledge, which will never come back.

Read more: Thoughts in Jerusalem


Out of Asia

Opening of the Out of Asia exhibition, TRC, 14th July 2019. Photograph: Willem Vogelsang.

Opening of the Out of Asia exhibition, TRC, 14th July 2019. Photograph: Willem Vogelsang.

On Sunday, 21st July, Gillian Vogelsang wrote:

Last week Sunday (14th July 2019) saw the opening of the TRC exhibition: Out of Asia: 2000 Years of  Textiles a pop-up exhibition that was set up to coincide with  the massive International Convention of Asia Scholars in Leiden (co-organised by the International Institute for Asian Studies) and which had as its theme: Asia and Europe, Asia in Europe.

Over fifty people came to the opening of the TRC exhibition. I gave a lecture about ancient and modern textile contacts between Asia and Europe, and about the so-called Silk Roads that led from China, through Central Asia to the Middle East and on to Europe. And of course, in some cases in the opposite direction. But not only items were transported along the Silk Roads, but they also moved from India in all directions of the compass and were often transported along many maritime trade routes. Think of chintz and Kashmir shawls, and of course, the Paisley motif (buteh) that originated in India.

Words of welcome were also given by Sandra Sardjono of Tracing Patterns Foundation, Willem Vogelsang of IIAS, Leiden and the director of IIAS, Philippe Peycam.

Several people donated items to the TRC Collection, including a uniform dress worn by a nurse during the Second World War (1939-1945) and a child’s costume of a maid that was worn to a fancy dress party celebrating the liberation of The Netherlands from the Germans in 1945. These will be used in the TRC’s exhibition about textiles and dress during the Second World War, which will be held in the summer of 2020. Furthermore, John Ang presented two Malay batiks – one with turtles that represent long life – a good omen for the TRC!

Equally important, we had the chance to talk with many people about the work of the TRC, how we are expanding, needs for the short term and the long term. In other words, lots to think about.

Apart from the exhibition, the TRC also organised a week of special events. It was intense, but great fun! Over the week we had well over 200 visitors to the TRC, who attended a regular series of workshops in the morning and lectures in the afternoons. The visitors an workshop/lecture participants came, literally, from all over the world. The subjects ranged from Japanese and Western textiles and fashions over a 200 year period by Francesco Montuori, Malay batiks by John Ang, and three different forms of technical weave analysis, presented by Eric Boudot and Sandra Sardjono. Linda McIntosh discussed Lao textiles, and Chris Buckley gave a workshop on Asian looms and their lineage. The loom workshop on Friday 19th was followed by a talk on medieval Indian textiles excavated in Egypt (by the writer of this blog). The main practical workshops were given by representatives of Zhuo Ye Cottage, who came especially from Taiwan. They gave two workshops – basically an introduction to indigo dyeing. Fascinating. Many thanks to all our speakers.

On the same day as the indigo workshops (Thursday 18th July) there was a series of textile lectures at the National Museum of Ethnology, as part of the ICAS Conference. This part of the conference was organised by Sandra Sardjono and Chris Buckley.

A big word of thanks needs to go to all the TRC volunteers who have been helping prepare the exhibition and looking after participants of the workshops and lectures. Without their help it would not have been possible.

We are now seriously thinking about having one and two-day events on various textile themes to coincide with conferences in Leiden, as well as a TRC series of one-day events. So if you are coming to Leiden and are willing to give a paper, let us know! Who knows we may be able to organise a themed day of talks.


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Hogewoerd 164, 2311 HW Leiden. Tel. +31 (0)71 5134144 / +31 (0)6 28830428

Opening times: Monday to Thursday: 10.00-16.00 hrs, other days by appointment. Holidays: until 11 August

Bank account number: NL39 INGB 0002 9823 59, Stichting Textile Research Centre

Entrance is free, but donations are always welcome !

TRC Gallery exhibition: 5 Sept. -19 Dec. 2019: Socks&Stockings

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The TRC is dependent on project support and individual donations. All of our work is being carried out by volunteers. To support the TRC activities, we therefore welcome your financial assistance: donations can be transferred to bank account number NL39 INGB 000 298 2359, in the name of the Stichting Textile Research Centre.
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