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.

 

 

WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN COLLECTING MADEIRA LINENS: 

 

1. FABRIC QUALITY.

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.

2. COLORS.

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.

3. DESIGNS.

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.

4. STITCHING.

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

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Collecting antique and vintage Madeira Linens

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