Two extraordinary Private Collections of textile designs and fabric samples created over the span of a century went under the hammer at Tennants Auctioneers in North Yorkshire on 20th November. It is extremely rare for extensive collections such as these to come up for auction, and the sale generated much interest from textile designers and collectors alike.
Tennants Textiles Specialist Sarah White says of the sale: ‘This was a unique and wonderful sale to work on. It demonstrated the diversity and wealth of pattern and design being generated in the era and it has been a privilege to handle these two remarkable collections’.
The bulk of the sale was made up of over 170 fabric sample books from a Private Collection, sold in 79 lots. The collection was amassed over the course of 30 years by the vendor for historical reference and design inspiration and contain approximately 130,000 individual textile samples and designs. Mainly French in origin, the bulk of the collection dates from 1880-1920, with many hailing from Lyon, the capital of France’s textile industry in the era. Many of the lots were in demand, with up to 10 phone lines competing with online bidders.
The top lot of the collection, selling for £11,000 (plus buyer’s premium), was a French book containing fabric samples and original watercolour designs, dating to circa 1850-60. Early printed cottons and silk in floral, geometric, figural and boteh designs were joined by nearly 2,500 watercolour designs.
Also selling well above estimate were a French 19th century leather-bound volume of 450 samples stamped ‘Rouleaux Liebach Harmann & Co.’, which sold for £3,500, and a further French early 19th Century book containing approximately 1600 samples (of which only one was missing) that sold for £3,000.
Only one of the sample books can be attributed to the English textile industry, which hailed from Rossendale in the heart of the Lancashire textiles industrial area. The ledger containing over 5,500 cotton samples was stamped to the spine Rossendale Collection Printed Cottons 1838/40, and it sold for £2,600.
The auction was concluded with sale of the John Barker Archive of over 800 textile designs in pencil and watercolour, executed by the Manchester designer between 1860-1872 and consigned for sale by his great-great-grandson. Immaculately rendered, and meticulously annotated by Barker, the collection was sold as one lot for £8,500 against an estimate of £3,000-5,000. The archive represents the extraordinary wealth of design flowing from out of Manchester in the mid-19th Century.