On The Contents of the Bibliographica Textilia Historiae

Bibliography or library catalogue?

This is the question haunting this bibliographic project —as well as many others on very different subjects. Although this work, which is based on the library holdings and archives of the Center for Social Research on Old Textiles [CSROT], contains virtually all of the important general works on the history of textiles published since the early nineteenth century, plus many earlier works, and is by far the most comprehensive attempt to prepare a general bibliography on the many aspects of the subject, we still do not pretend that this is a "complete" bibliography on the subject in any sense of the word, even though it may be continually getting closer. No national, university or museum library anywhere has every book published, in every language, on all facets of the history of textiles published since five hundred years, even though we believe, as we mentioned earlier, that its "artistic" literature appears to be "relatively" small compared to many other applied art subjects, not to speak of the fine arts, such as painting.

Our intention, however, is not to try to produce a complete compilation of every publication touching on the history of textiles —for the moment at least, a utopic, romantic and fantastic idea— but rather to attempt via the scope of this bibliography to "map out" its broad contours, specific territories and regions, and "locate" its main branches, specialties, and principal works. Hopefully one day these indications could lead to a complete and definitive map of the subject.

Thus someone looking for every book and article ever published on any given textile sub-area, or by any given author or institution, may be somewhat disappointed —even though we have included numerous works which have been "cited" but not "sighted". Any specialized textile scholar will be quick to find lacunae on their subject, although on the other hand we expect there may also be some surprises. What we have attempted to do is to include all of the major works in all of the important branches, plus a significant number of works from allied areas not normally treated in conjunction with the history of textiles, especially works on textile-related technological, social and economic history. To make up for some important works lacking in our library, we have included a number of important titles drawn from other outside library sources, so as to try to be as complete as possible.

Needless to say, all the works in our library have been seen and catalogued by us, as well as all of the additional works drawn from other public and private libraries, with the exception of those entries with a "[CSROT txxx]" reference number at the end, but even these entries have been all verified and cross-checked against several independent reference, bibliographic or library sources.

When we claim that this is the "first general bibliography" on the subject of the history of textiles, this does not mean in any way that there are no bibliographies on textiles, as can be clearly seen in this work, where we have included references to several hundred bibliographies and reading lists. While each of these works has its own specific importance in terms of its subject, period and place, language, and viewpoint of its author, etc., virtually all of these can be qualified as being one of the following four types:

(1) A bibliography on a specialized textile branch such as Lawrie, Brunello and Ron on dyeing; Enay & Azadi and O'Bannon on oriental rugs; Kuhn on Chinese textiles and early weaving techniques; Overloop, Whiting and Lotz on lace; Colas, Lipperheide and Hiler on costume; or Howard on southeast Asian textiles;31

(2) A bibliography on textiles, or textile-related material, appearing as part of broader bibliography, such as the monumental Creswell on Islamic art and architecture for Islamic textiles, rugs and costume; Kress for early economic and political works related to textile history; Chamberlin, Arntzen & Rainwater and Ehresmann for works on the decorative arts; or Franklin for English-language books on antiques;32

(3) An extensive bibliography appearing as an annex, appendix or footnotes to a specialized textile monograph, for example, Forbes on early textile technology, Silbermann on silk, Turnbull on dyeing, Lombard on medieval Islamic textiles, Hoffmann or Barber on archaeological textiles, May on Spanish textiles, or Seiler-Baldinger on textile techniques;33 or more often,

(4) A general textile bibliography appearing as part of a general textile history, usually an incomplete, sometimes almost random, short-title listing, one of the first being by Gaston Migeon in 1909, and the most extensive being by Schmidt, Geijer and Wilson, the latter work containing bibliographic essays and is the only general introductory university-level textbook on the subject.34

 

Each of these specialized works, in varying degrees, are important and should be consulted for materials related to their particular specialized subjects. Wherever possible we have cited these works so that the reader can turn to them for additional, complementary or even contradictory information to our entry.

Despite all these important references works, to our knowledge, there is no single bibliographic reference source, whether published, unpublished, library file cards, or electronic database— which attempts to weave together on one bibliographic loom, so to speak, the entire "fabric" of the literature of the history of textiles:

- The history of fibers and cloth, such as wool, cotton, linen, etc., as well as the history of fine, luxury, decorative textiles, such as silk;

- The fine art of weaving as well as weaving as an industry and object of trade;

- The technology of textiles as well as its aesthetic, "fine art" aspects;

ie, the social-economic-practical aspects along with the artistic, decorative and beautiful aspects, which is precisely the purpose of the Center for Social Research on Old Textiles and its Bibliographica Textilia Historiae.

 

The bibliography has been conceived and compiled with the following readership in mind:

- The general and specialized textile researcher, who has need for detailed information (bibliographic, visual or descriptive) about the content of a given book on a textile subject;

- The cataloguer or collector of books on textiles, especially the librarian of a textile or decorative arts library, interested in the content and physical description of a wide range of books on the history of textiles for purposes of collecting, evaluating or catalogueing; and

- More generally, the cultural, economic or social historian interested situating the history of textiles within the history of the crafts and decorative arts, especially during the ancient, medieval and renaissance periods through industrialization in the early nineteenth century.

 

General Content and Purpose

The purpose of this work is to critically document the history of the literature of "handwoven" textiles worldwide, especially in Europe and Asia, but also the Americas, the Pacific region and Africa, through the introduction of industrial mechanized weaving, ie the introduction of steam-powered weaving. This was generalized in Europe and the United States by the mid- to late-nineteenth century, but under other, more so-called "primitive" economic conditions, the craft of handweaving still continues today in many parts of the world, although perhaps not with the same high quality of materials and labor as in earlier periods when high productivity was not the predominant concern, and textiles made for use and not for commercial purposes.

This history concerns the "prehistoric" period, so-called "primitive" society, antiquity, the middle ages, and the renaissance through the present period, treating all facets of textiles as a finished "artistic" product, its material production, its cultural function, as well as its economic and social role as an object of manufacture and commercial exchange.

This bibliography is particularly concerned with situating the history of textiles, and all its specialized areas, within the broader history of economic, social and cultural life, work and technological change, particularly during the medieval and renaissance periods to the early nineteenth century.

Basically, it is an attempt to conceive and document the history of textiles as being the very unique marriage between the "beautiful" and the "useful".

Because of the virtually unlimited range of this material and our limited available resources and time, it has proved impossible to catalogue all of the titles in depth, which has resulted in a rather "uneven" description of the works catalogued; some titles may even be lacking a publisher reference, while many others have a detailed collation and annotation consisting of several hundred words. But we felt that inclusiveness was a overriding factor, and that "more is better" at the expense of "uniformity", because any fragment of information could be important to someone and that any lacking information could be included later. In general, however, we have tried to provide more detailed information for those works we consider the most important. In any case, it should be seen as a "work in progress".

 

Types of Materials in the Bibliography

The library and bibliography consists of the following types of materials:

- Printed books and pamphlets, including monographs, anthologies, all types of catalogues (exhibition, collection, auction, bookseller's, antique dealer's, etc.), university dissertations, political tracts, royal edicts, governmental laws, and compilations thereof;

- Articles, extracts and offprints (mostly from scholarly journals);

- Serials (each issue is catalogued individually; some with a list of contents);

- Some broadsides and posters; and lastly,

- A few manuscripts, typescripts, mimeographed and photocopied works, signed documents and forms.

The works included have been published from ca 1468 (Johannes Nyder. De Res Marcatorium. [CSROT 3300], a theological tract on the morality of commerce and business), through the twenty-first century.

 

Subjects. The bibliography especially attempts to encompass the history of the following subject areas:

- Textile-related social, economic and trade histories, including guild histories, royal edicts, company histories, sumptuary laws, inventories, etc.;

- Textile-related works on the decorative arts, ornament, design, crafts and archaeology, including general histories, pictorial and period surveys;

- Textile materials, tools and techniques, including early chemistry and mechanics, spinning, looms, fibers, dyes, sewing tools, textile conservation, etc.;

- The textile arts, the finished textile product, including the weaving of silk, wool, linen and cotton, printed textiles, shawls, velvets, passementries, embroidery, lace, carpets, tapestry, felt, quilts, knitting, tablet weaving, bark cloth, pattern books, costume, biographies, etc.; and lastly,

- The textile-related crafts, including basketry, mats, wallpaper, leather, etc.

In addition to these textile subjects, it includes a number of works on Islamic art, especially general catalogues, surveys and anthologies which usually contain important sections on textiles and rugs, as well as a number of works on Islamic miniatures as these are often an important visual source of textile and clothing information.

However, for this database, we have not included a number of specialized works on Islamic ceramics and tiles, miniatures, metalwork and architecture in our library, which for the most part would duplicate the entries already found in Creswell.

Although we endeavour to be as comprehensive as possible on all the above subjects, we should point out that we are particularly concerned with documenting the early textile and textile-related literature, and with few important exceptions, we do not make any special attempt to be up-to-date on the late twentieth-century textile literature, which is followed regularly by some active textile associations, such as the Textile Society of America.

More specifically, we are quite selective concerning the following areas:

- No books on modern or contemporary handweaving in the industrialized countries, the so-called "fiber arts";

- Very few books on travel and voyages;

- Few modern practical "how-to" books on embroidery or weaving, except if they are facsimile reprints of early works, contain important historical or technical information, or are published before 1875;

- Relatively few books on costume, except for bibliographies, some general historical surveys, a few early works, and especially, works on liturgical vestments;

- Few books on post-ca 1850 industrial textile production techniques and machinery, except for works containing important early handwoven textile information; and lastly,

- Few books on the technical or agricultural aspects of modern sericulture.