Today’s conversation in the form of questions and answers:
Q: Would you be able to tell me the pattern, possible age and manufacturer of a damask tablecloth if I sent pictures?
A: Unfortunately not. Although we can guess the age. But there were reputedly 800 damask weaving companies, each weaving 800 discrete patterns in Ireland alone in the 19th century. If the tablecloth has no tag and no name woven into it, the manufacturer can’t be identified. There is no database of makers or patterns anywhere.
Q: I was trying to find out if I had found a really fine tablecloth or an inexpensive one. I’ve seen ads for cloths that go in the hundreds of dollars. I’d at least like to identify the pattern if tablecloths have patterns the way that depression glass does.
A: Damask patterns don’t have known standardized names. Sometimes an unused piece comes with a label or tags attached that include a pattern number and a company name and a pattern name but even this information doesn’t mean much of anything to anyone anymore. I now understand your question better when you told me that depression glass has names. But damask isn’t like that. The names have been lost to history.
Nowadays, I name them after whatever the pattern looks like: Rose, Polka Dot, Striped and sometimes I just make up names so that I can jog my memory with a name that is a visual cue.