The Dargate Book

Since we’re on the topic of antique swatchbooks, here’s another one: Reproduction Fabrics owner Margo Krager has one she calls the Dargate book:

In 1997, we acquired a truly amazing, early nineteenth Century fabric sample book. It contains 167 pages and approximately 2140 vintage fabric samples, which are glued onto hand made rag paper with paste made from horses’ hooves or fish glue (a process used at the time because that is all they had, but is now known as an effective conservation technique). The pages are bound in a ledger type binder. The book and its samples have been identified as c. 1830 French dressgoods by both a professor of costume and an independent textile historian.

Although the original purpose of the book is not known, there are three likely possibilities. It may have been used as a printing mill pattern book, a sample storage book by a subscriber to a swatch service (yes those existed back then), or a reference book for ideas by someone in the fabric industry. Glue marks, left behind on some pages where swatches have been removed, suggest that this was a working book.

From the Lavendar & Mint line

Some of the fabrics were reproduced by Baum/Windham Fabrics (archived here; scroll to “Dargate”). Lavendar & Mint is the most recent line. Reproduction Fabrics also still has Dargate Ribbons, Dargate Cheddars and Illuminations, and Dargate Prussian Blues.


  1. Concha says:

    I am totally speechless… what an amazing swatchbook!!!

  2. Stacy A says:

    A few hours ago I ran across my first Dargate line and wondered where the name came from. I saw the violet and chocolate line at Quilters corner. Everything in the shop is 35% off until Saturday night (tomorrow). I might have to look closer at it now that I know it’s great history. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Vanessa says:

    Ahem…am I in heaven? Oh, Kim, what an amazing post. Heave, sweet fabric heaven! What would we do without your fabulous blog :) – cheers – and have a great day!, Vanessa

  4. What an amazing treasure!