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Set of skeins

Set of skeins

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    1800-1850 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mrs M. G. Graham

  • Museum number:

    T.436 to E, H to K, M to O, S&T-1966

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Object Type
Silk thread is obtained from the cocoon of the silk worm, which is formed of a continuous double filament of fine silk. The filaments are reeled off several cocoons into a single strand. Strands are thrown, or twisted together, to make silk thread, and threads can be plied (by twisting two or more in the opposite direction to which the thread was thrown) to make two and three-ply silk, as we have here. Silk takes dyes well, and the clever gradations in colours in these skeins is typical of the taste for novelty and experimentation inspired by the developments in dyeing technology in the 19th century.

Materials & Making
In the 18th century, silk thread for embroidery was bought in skeins, from which lengths would be wound off onto a silk winder, to be easily held in the hand while working. It was usually bought by weight. In the first half of the 19th century manufacturers devised methods of mechanically winding thread in a more convenient form for sale to the public. These small skeins have been wound in a very decorative way, in keeping with the taste for neatness and prettiness regarding the items that made up the contents of a needlework box.

Physical description

Set of 15 skeins of embroidery silks.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)


1800-1850 (made)



Materials and Techniques


Descriptive line

Set of 15 skeins of embroidery silks, Great Britain, 1800-1850


Textiles; Embroidery; Needlework accessories


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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