Collecting Antique and Vintage Madeira Linens

Collecting Antique and Vintage Madeira Linens



Today let’s talk about Collecting Antique and Vintage Madeira Linens and what to look for.




Hand embroidered linen from the Island of Madeira has always been a luxury. These days, it’s still possible to custom order a hand embroidered linen tablecloth or set, but be prepared to put aside a princely sum to purchase such a linen marvel. Antique and vintage linens made by the Madeira embroiderers long ago are actually a wonderful and well priced collection to enjoy.



Collecting Antique and Vintage Madeira Linens




The embroidery done on the Portuguese island of Madeira was first “discovered” by the English Miss Phelps, in 1850.  She brought back trunks of the exceptional embroidery work, made by the Portuguese peasant women.  Passed from generation to generation, their skill with the needle was incomparable. Soon English upper class ladies all wanted to have their large trousseaux stitched and embroidered in Madeira.




Collecting Antique and Vintage Madeira Linens


Collecting Antique and Vintage Madeira Linens




Collecting Antique and Vintage Madeira Linens




The benchmark for fine quality Madeira linens is Marghab, founded in the 1930’s by Emile and Vera Marghab.  Their linens were made with only the finest Irish linen and  a form of organdy,  called Margandie, which was especially made in Switzerland. The linens were embroidered with luxury embroidery thread from France and England.




The embroideresses worked from home, and were paid for each stitch they made. A single placemat often had over 70,000 stitches! Only the most perfect pieces were allowed to be sold as Marghab.




Collecting Antique and Vintage Madeira Linens



Collecting Antique and Vintage Madeira Linens




Besides Marghab, there were other linen design houses that produced exquisite high quality and delightfully decorative linens on Madeira.  Each one of these linens, cherished through the decades, is now an heirloom collectable worthy of setting the table for royalty.




Collecting Antique and Vintage Madeira Linens




There are many collectors of fine linens. If collectors love embroidery work, they especially cherish Madeira linens for the fine workmanship.



Collecting Antique and Vintage Madeira Linens




Originally, Madeira linens had paper labels sewn on them with a few stitches. It is a rare treat to find an unused set still bearing these.






Collecting Antique and Vintage Madeira Linens




Collecting Antique and Vintage Madeira Linens




Whether you love to set your table with a tablecloth, or a set of placemats, napkins and a matching runner, antique or vintage linens made on the Island of Madeira are always an exceptional choice. Madeira linens are highly prized for their beauty and quality.



Collecting Antique and Vintage Madeira Linens


With their delightful designs, luxury quality fabrics, and the most precise and skillful hand work, table linens from Madeira are an art form.  A textile art form you can enjoy when entertaining now, and pass down to future generations later. Collecting Antique Madeira Linens is a gracious way to add antiques to your table.






Once you have seen and felt a beautiful Madeira made linen, you won’t soon forget what it’s supposed to feel like. The fabric should be true linen, or margandie {sheer organdy.}  Linen has more body than most other fabrics, and feels sturdy in your hand. Linen always feels smooth and cool to the touch, because it absorbs water from the environment. Both the linen and the margandie should feel and look luxurious.


Because linen is difficult to dye, most of the Madeira linens are soft colors or white and cream.  The colors are pastel: blue, apricot, pink, yellow, mint green etc. Look for even dyeing, there shouldn’t be any lighter spots or areas.


Antique and vintage Madeira embroidery most often has designs embroidered in one or more corners. You will rarely find a true Madeira cloth or other piece of linen with an all-over design, because the design was purposely made to stand out and to avoid hiding the quality of the linen used. Madeira designs are often asymmetrical, with varying design details in different sizes.


Antique and vintage Madeira linens have embroidery that is very detailed. The embroidery work is very sharp, and clean. When you turn over the linen, the back will look as beautiful as the front. Often each part of a design’s embroidery is stitched individually. You will never see threads leading from one embroidered detail to the next one. Each will be begun and ended individually.


collecting antique and vintage Madeira linens



Collecting antique and vintage Madeira Linens




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9 thoughts on “Collecting Antique and Vintage Madeira Linens”

  1. I love the monogrammed antique linens too, but th really fine Madeira linens always make me gasp! Have a beautiful weekend, too, friend. Xo

  2. Knew I loved these embroidered linens
    but I didn’t know why until now.
    Used so many of them in styling for the original Victoria magazine

    Merci, Miss Lidy!

  3. Hi Sunday! Thank you for your visit, so good to see you here!! xo

  4. Hi Lidy, My great grandparents were from Madeira. I have received pretty handkerchiefs from Aunts over the years that I have given to granddaughters. One of my best friends who was a travel agent went to Madeira Years ago and brought me back a small linen tablecloth. I still have the paper it was wrapped in. It has blue images of roosters, famous buildings and Portuguese people. It’s in my genes to love embroidered linens! Hugs, Donna

  5. Donna, how wonderful! I am sure that your girls all love and cherish their special handkerchiefs. Aren’t they gorgeous? The work is so exquisite and precise, isn’t it? Hope you are well, in future days lets get together!

  6. Gloria

    You know I love everyone you have displayed. The Sets I Acquired from you have all been exceptional. My guest always ask if they are suppose to use them. I always want to share my many treasures with them. I do love the gold leaf red table cloth. I have one similar to it. Every time I see it I consider purchasing it. You know me too well. I’m sure I will purchase more of your beautiful linens in the future. I am in heaven looking at all of on you site.

  7. Connie

    I have a large Madeira linen tablecloth with light blu embroidery along with 16 matching napkins that my mother acquired while living in the Azores in late 1940’s. Probably used maybe two or three times. Could you give an estimated value or tell me how to get one?

    1. Connie, I’m sorry but we don’t really appraise antiques or linens. I suggest you try to find an appraiser in your area that may be able to tell you more. Good luck!

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