A Black Chantilly Tie

This particular piece of Chantilly lace in my collection is not exceptional in itself, but its rise to fame — and fall from grace — make an interesting story. In 2010 I was visiting my friend Jeri Ames in Maine, USA, before teaching a class for the New England Lace Group. Together we made a trip to Hallowell where Jeri’s ancestors had traveled by ship in the 18th century en route to claiming land grants in Maine after the Revolutionary War. I later discovered that Hallowell had a link with the eighteenth century lace industry in Ipswich, Massachussetts — Elizabeth Lord Lakeman whose lace pillow is in the Smithsonian Museum, grew up in Ipswich but moved to Hallowell in 1793 (see The Laces of Ipswich by Marta Cotterell Raffel pp. 90–95).

While we were in Hallowell we went to a vintage linens shop, where Jeri frequently shopped in search of laces, and I pulled this black Chantilly lace tie out of a container of jumbled hankies, doilies, etc. It is typical of those worn in the late 19th century, probably around the neck, although it could equally well have been used as a sort of lappet decorating the head. As I had been looking for some Chantillly for my lace collection, and as it was also very reasonably priced, I bought it and brought it back to Glasgow with me.

Later that same year my husband, David, and I were redesigning The Lace Guild website, which at that time we ran. Our concept for the home page was that it should quickly convey to the visitor the nature of the site: introducing an organization for people who made lace or were interested in fine old lace. We felt that the design could only accomodate one illustration as such, and for this we used a photo we had taken of a member making lace at a craft fair. To convey the idea of ‘fine lace’ we decided to use space in the title area at the head of the page. The lace needed to be black to fit the colour scheme, and long and thin to fit the title area. And that’s how a Chantilly tie brought from the USA came to grace the home page of the British Lace Guild.

The Lace Guild home page in 2016

Unfortunately The Lace Guild committee that approved this design was succeeded by one in which a particular individual took a vehement dislike to the tie, and wished it to be replaced by the Guild’s catherine wheel logo. We were not willing to compromise our design in this way, and at the end of 2016 David was replaced by a new webmaster who immediately removed both the lappet and the friendly lacemaker.