A rare ‘Stevengraph’ in the form of a bookmark, depicting a portrait of Captain Cook (based on Nathaniel Dance’s portrait of 1776), as well as the La Perouse Monument, and Botany Bay. ‘Stevengraphs’ were invented in Coventry by local ribbon weaver Thomas Stevens (1828-1888) in the mid nineteenth century. Stevens adapted the Jacquard looms used in Coventry to weave colourful pictures from silk. In 1862, Stevens introduced his bookmarks with four different designs, and by the end of the year almost eighty different bookmarks were in production. The bookmarks proved very popular, and by the mid 1870s over 900 different designs were being manufactured. The genius of the invention was that silk products, once the sole purvey of the drapery trade, were now sold to a much wider audience through booksellers and stationers. As well as bookmarks, larger silk pictures were produced and the new genre became known as ‘Stevengraphs’, after their maker, who called his factory ‘The Stevengraph Works’. This Victorian keepsake demonstrates the enduring fame and popularity of Captain Cook, with his portrait a widespread memento of his Pacific voyages of discovery.
Silk bookmark woven and embroidered in blue and green silk thread, with tassel, 26.5 x 5.3 cms, excellent condition, in a custom-made cloth box.[Godden Number, 388.]