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THE PATTERN SALE: 100 Years of Textile Designs and Fabric Samples from Two Private Collections

29th June 2020.

The Pattern Sale is a celebration of colour, fabric and the extraordinary wealth of design created over the span of a century, comprising two private collections, A Private Collection of Fabric Sample Books and The John Barker Archive. The collections will form the basis of a sale which will take place on Friday 20th November.



The body of The Pattern Sale is made up of over 170 fabric and textile sample books, which have been amassed over 30 years by the owner for historical reference and design inspiration and contain nearly 130,000 individual fabric samples.

The Collection charts the history of design, fashion and the European textile industry through a period of extraordinary growth and change. It offers an incredible source of inspiration for designers today, as well as being of significant historical interest. All types of fabric and embellishments are included in the books from fine silks, velvets and heavily woven fabrics for evening gowns to printed cottons, chiffons and embroidered fabrics from the 1920s and 1930s.

Mainly French in origin, the books date from the early 19th century through to the 1940s, with the bulk of the collection dating from 1880-1920. A handful of books hail from Russia and Germany, and one book comes from a British manufacturer in Rossendale, Lancashire. Only two manufacturers are actually named on the books. Firstly, Claude Frères & Cie of Paris, which was established in 1855 by two brothers and grew to international importance, supplying the booming US fashion industry in the early 20th century. Secondly are books from Bianchini Férier, which was founded in Lyon in 1888 and saw almost immediate success. By 1909 it had offices in Paris, London, Brussels and New York, and commissioned artists such as Raoul Dufy to produce designs for its wares. The company created designs and supplied fabric for the likes of Givenchy, Balenciaga, Chanel, Dior, Yves Saint Laurent and Nina Ricci.

The majority of the anonymous books appear to hail from Lyon, either having Lyon labels or having the marks of Lyon papeterie or stationary shops. Lyon was the epicentre of the textile industry in France and had held an important position for centuries. From the late 15th century, Lyon was the centre of the silk trade in France, perfectly positioned on the banks of the Saône River in the south-east of the country, with easy access to the Italian silk trading centres. In the 17th century it was the European centre of silk and had developed its own styles and techniques. By 1620, 10,000 silk looms were in the city and a thriving supporting industry of spinners, dyers, papermakers and merchants had grown up around the city. The early 19th century saw great technical advancements, such as the invention of the Jacquard loom in 1801 and the advent of synthetic dyes which produced varied and vibrant colours. The industry strove ahead, and by 1870 100,000 looms were in operation.

The textile industry in France from 1850-1950 was known as the Second Industrial Revolution; Paris became the hub of textile design, colour forecasting and trend setting. By the 1920s and 30s, sample books were employed to communicate new designs, trends and the latest textiles around the world.

The books will be sold either singularly or in small groups with estimates ranging from £150-250 to £3,000-5,000 plus buyer’s premium.


A fascinating snapshot of Manchester textile design in the mid-19th century comes in the form of the John Barker Archive, a well-documented collection of over 800 sketches and designs for fabric and wallpaper executed between 1860 and 1872 by John Barker of Salford.

John Barker (1825-1879) was born into a family of textile designers and salesmen. Barker was an independent textile designer and judging from the quality of both paper and colour on his finished designs, must have run a relatively comfortable studio. The archive comprises pencil, watercolour and gouache designs on neat pieces of paper and tracing paper; all the designs are signed and dated, and often detail the sizes and colours used. Towards the end of the 1860s Barker began recording on his designs the time he spent executing them, the amount he charged the client, and even the names of the clients to whom he would sell the designs.

Barker’s designs followed the trends of the era, incorporating popular motifs such as boteh and paisley that had come to prominence with the Indian Revival, elements of Chinoiserie, and from the mid-1860s the influence of Persian design can be seen, mirroring the expansion of trade with Constantinople.

The designs were executed during an important era in the history of British industry and design. Manchester was at the centre of the British textile industry in the mid-19th century and was one of the world’s most important industrial centres, producing approximately 30% of the world’s cotton fabric. The explosion of industry and influx of workers fuelled the rapid expansion and modernisation of Manchester’s infrastructure, laying the foundations of the modern city.

The John Barker Archive has been consigned for sale by his Great Great Grandson and will be sold as a single lot with an estimate of £3,000-5,000 plus buyer’s premium.



Title: The Pattern Exhibition: 100 Years of Textile Designs and Fabric Samples from Two Private Collections

Date: 2nd October - 2nd November

Venue: The Garden Rooms at Tennants, Leyburn, North Yorkshire, DL8 5SG

Opening Hours: Monday – Sunday 9am to 5pm

Free Entry



The Pattern Sale: 100 Years of Textile Designs and Fabric Samples from Two Private Collections

Date: 20th November, 10.30am

Viewing: Public Viewing TBC

             Private Viewing can be arranged by special appointment. Please contact Sarah White for details. 

Venue: Tennants Auctioneers, Leyburn, North Yorkshire, DL8 5SG


For further details or to register your interest in the sale, please contact the Textile Specialist Sarah White or 01969 623780.

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