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Cahier de théorie : notebook on weaving

Identifier: MSS 0097-Item 0174

Scope and Contents

This volume of weaving techniques was created circa 1893 by J. Mercier, who was possibly a student at the École Municipal de Tissage et de Broderie in Lyon, France. The manuscript is entitled Cahier de Théorie 4e Année 3e and consists of handwritten notes for a course in fabric weaving in Eastern France in the late nineteenth century. The teacher of the course is identified as M. Felix.

Mercier’s manual was written in a clear hand and contains painstakingly detailed drawings of weaving patterns and diagrams for warping textile looms. A typical entry consists of handwritten notes on the combing and smoothing of thread, the proper ratios of different types of thread to create a particular fabric, and instructions for setting up the loom. The entries also contain detailed diagrams of weaving patterns in black and red ink as well as hand-painted, multicolor drawings of repeating patterns that could be achieved. Most entries also include a fabric swatch. The majority of the fabrics were intended for dress making, but Mercier described a few as upholstery fabrics, most of which had larger patterns. Mercier focused primarily on silk production, but some fabrics contained blends of wool and cotton as well. Included are descriptions and swatches of damask, Peking silk, satin, brocatelle, lampas, drouguet, velour, and gauze. The entries for damask and embroidery on pages 55 and 56 were dated October 15, 1893.

Mercier also provided information on the decomposition of woven textiles. At the end of the volume, he included a table briefly describing the composition of various woven fabrics. The final page contains a chart of the prices and weights of silk from different countries, including Spain, Italy, Japan, and China.

This large volume features green cloth over boards, and pink marbled paper on the inside of the front and back covers. The page signatures are loosely bound with green string. On the side of the front cover, there is an inscription reading “1st août 91 fr. 1.75/ feuilles 2.25” in black ink. The title page reads “Cahier de Théorie 4e Année 3e. Professeur M. Felix. J. Mercier.” The volume contains 140 pages of gridded paper with a black border, of which 21 are blank. The text is written in black ink and detailed drawings of weave structure are done in black and red ink throughout. The volume contains 29 hand-painted, multicolor patterns and 75 fabric swatches. There is a piece of blue paper between the last leaf and the back cover. Pasted onto the inside of the back cover there is a chart showing the price per weight of silks, woolens, and cottons, issued in Lyon on June 24, 1856.


  • Creation: approximately 1893


Language of Materials

Materials entirely in French.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections, University of Delaware Library,

Biographical and Historical Note

J. Mercier was probably a student in the third- or fourth-year class of M. Felix in Eastern France circa 1893, where he learned industrial textile design. A 1903 news bulletin from Lyon identifies M. Felix Denis as the third-year teacher at the city’s École Municipal de Tissage et de Broderie (Municipal School of Weaving). That year, he was teaching a course on the decomposition of woven fabrics, including damask, double chain, gauze, and velour. Lyon was the capital of the French silk industry in the late nineteenth century.

Rare and Unusual Images from F.A. Bernett Books, “Compositions for Silk Damask & Other Fabrics (homage to Morton Feldman)” (accessed October 3, 2016)“École municipal de tissage et de broderie—Année scolaire 1903-1904,” Bulletin Municipal Officiel de la Ville de Lyon. (20 Septembre 1903), p. 203.Information derived from the collection.


1 volume : 140 pages ; 48 cm


This volume of weaving techniques was created circa 1893 by J. Mercier, who was possibly a student at the École Municipal de Tissage et de Broderie in Lyon, France, where he learned industrial textile design.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchase, April 2014

Related Materials

This item forms part of MSS 0097 Diaries, Journals, and Ships' Logs collection.

Shelving Summary

Item 0174: Shelved in SPEC MSS 0097

Processing Information

Processed and encoded by Elizabeth Jones-Minsinger, January 2017.

Finding aid for Cahier de théorie : notebook on weaving
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
2017 January 11
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Delaware Library Special Collections Repository

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