Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



From Creating Textiles: Makers, Methods, Markets. Proceedings of the Sixth Biennial Symposium of the Textile Society of America, Inc. New York, NY, September 23–26, 1998 (Earleville, MD: Textile Society of America, Inc., 1999).


Copyright © 1998 by the author(s)



Coach lace is a trim used almost exclusively in the upholstery of carriages and coaches. The names "coach lace" or "livery lace" were used consistently throughout its manufacture. The robust looped wool pile created by a supplementary warp, was a variation of velvet similar to Brussels carpeting and makes this trim easily identifiable.

This paper examines the manufacturing of American coach lace from the mid- 18th century until its demise in the 1930's. Coach lace is a textile little recognized today. The prevalence and context within which it existed and how coach lace adapted to new forms of transportation, technolo1:,'Y and production organization will be explored.

Business records, census records, city directories, government reports, patents, textile directories, and carriage and automobile journals were some of the records consulted. Objects were sought and examined such as textile samples, carriages, coaches, train passenger cars and automobiles that retained their original upholstery and had provenance.

The story of American coach lace production is necessarily hinged to the production of carriages. Carriages as a mode of transportation relied on a network of roads and the means to atford the purchase and maintenance of the vehicle. The roadway system that developed during the 18th century that resulted in increased communication and a more rapid exchange of technology and goods.