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Friday, October 20, 2006

Berlin Work Patterns

I'll be away from my computer for the next couple of days. Scott and I are heading out first thing in the morning for another long weekend up in Galena, Illinois. I'll be back to blogging on Tuesday.

In the meantime, I thought I would share something really special with you. Does anyone know what wonderful thing happened in the needlework world in 1804? A publisher in Berlin by the name of Phillison created the very first charted pattern! A design created on a grid where each square represented a stitch.

The patterns were drawn by hand and then transferred to copper plates for printing and then handpainted. These designs were used for petit point, cross stitch and half stitch (needlepoint). Eventually, this type of embroidery became known as Berlin Work.

Shortly thereafter, many publishing houses in Germany began to produce these patterns and Berlin Work became the most popular form of needlework during that time.

Several years ago, I was poking around some old papers in an antique shop when I found 3 original Berlin Work patterns. I knew right away what they were but felt my heart move into my throat just before I turned them over to see the price. I had no clue at that time what they were worth (and to be honest, I still don't know) but I expected them to be beyond my means. Imagine my surprise when I saw that they were marked only $1.00 each! I'm sure they're worth more than that!

Anyway, I thought you would enjoy seeing them:

Handpainted Needlework Chart 1

Handpainted Needlework Chart 2

Handpainted Needlework Chart 3

I scanned these at 300 DPI in case anyone wants to attempt to stitch from them. I'm sure that's large enough to stitch from but you'll have to carefully chose your own colors. Click on any of the images to go to my Flickr site where you can download the large versions.

If anyone is interested in more information on Berlin Work, the only book I have on the subject is called Embroideries and patterns from 19th Century Vienna and it's by Raffaella Serena. My edition is copyrighted 1998.

Enjoy these everyone! I'll be back with more Galena photos on Tuesday!


Pelin said...

Good morning Pam ... Very generous of you to share these with us. I love them. Thank you so much ...
My best, Pelin

Susan said...

Wow, thanks for the piece of history. I suppose before that people just drew out their own ideas on the canvas. Or what did they use for the background of tapestries and things anyway?

What a great buy!

Laren said...


I think you might be out by a couple of hundred years on the printed, gridded pattern thing. The first modern, printed embroidery pattern books were actually published in the mid-16th Century. Many of the earliest were printed in Germany.

They were obviously in black and white and not as pretty as your ones, but were printed on grids, ready for interpration into the many styles of embroidery used at the time.


Anonymous said...

Gorgeous! Thanks for sharing these.

meroSmero said...

Hi, I'm artisan, and I love embroidery, especially older graphics, but with a technique I developed.
And I have the three books of Raffaella Serena, and I think everyone is a treasure.
Take a tour on my blog and know my work.

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