Historical information

This machine made net (76cm x 38) is trimmed on the edge with a tamboured design in the style of Limerick lace. Machines were so proficient in copying handmade lace that it is very difficult to tell if the trim is done by hand or by machine. Tambour lace was the earliest form of Limerick lace and was worked in chain stitch onto machine made net using a very fine crochet hook, so fine in fact that some practitioners used a sewing needle with the eye cut out and the pointed end inserted into a wooden handle.The lace industry in Limerick was started by Charles Walker in 1829 Many Irish women who learned the craft worked from home but Walker knew that he would get more consistent and cleaner work if he could oversee the work being done so he built a factory for the women. Limerick lace lost popularity after Walker died in 1842 but was revived in the late 1880s and continued to be made into the 20th century but never reached the heights of the Walker period.

If this pattern is machine made it would have been made using a Bonnaz machine which was later called a Cornely machine. Antoine Bonnaz (1836 – 1915), a silk machine engineer, produced the first successful industrial chain stitch machine. His patent was finally acquired by Ercole Cornely in Paris who developed a hook shaped needle that could make a line of chain stitches. Initially these machines were only available in northern France but they were so popular that they were eventually exported to the rest of the world and are still being produced today. This lace edging is quite fine and would only be about a centimetre in width and so would be subtle in effect, perhaps to be used on undergarments or as a fichu for day wear.


The Amess family owned Churchill Island from 1872 to 1929. This lace collection was added to and refined over the course of three successive generations of women.

Physical description

Machine made net, trimmed with tamboured design in style of Limerick lace.

Inscriptions & markings