Sample books are outstanding documents that record the production of companies. Usually in chronological order, they allow to trace the evolution of trends and identify the core techniques and styles employed by each manufacturer. Originally intended for internal use, they are now one of the key resources for the study of textile history and an infinite source of inspiration for designers.
The content of textile sample books is extremely varied: you can find fabrics for women’s clothing or neckwear; some books gather one product category, such as ribbons, while others present a miscellaneous selection. Some companies only collected samples of their textiles but, luckily, other manufacturers included records of different stages of the production process, such as sketches, point paper designs and printing proofs.
Sample books are one of the biggest areas in the FAR collection, with more than 2700 pieces ranging from the mid-nineteenth century to the 1980s. Their origin is predominantly Lyon, France, at the time the most renowned production centre of high-quality figured silks. Our collection preserves almost all of the sample books from the manufacturer Chavent Père et Fils (1860s–1930s), a leading Lyonnaise company that created textiles for many Parisians couturiers, including Charles Frederick Worth.