I cannot count my day complete
'Til needle, thread and fabric meet.
~Author Unknown

Sharing a common thread with those who love the art of hand embroidery

Monday, January 10, 2011

A walk through stitching history, visiting, Vera Way Marghab

Emile and Vera Way Marghab founded Marghab Linens, Ltd., on the Portuguese Island of Madeira in 1933. Together, Emile a native of Cyprus (then a British Colony), and Vera Way, a native of Watertown, South Dakota, established one of the finest embroidery houses in Madeira. Because of the couple's planning, dedication and desire for the "continual pursuit of perfection", Marghab Linens flourished for forty-seven years (1933-1980).

The Marghab Collection at the South Dakota Art Museum was started in 1970 with the donation of nearly 800 pieces, since 1970 additional gifts were made by Mrs. Marghab and the trustees for her estate. Today the collection consists of over 300 patterns and nearly 2800 linens and is the most complete and extensive collection of Marghab Linens in the world.

Madeira and hand embroidery have been synonymous since the embroidery industry was brought to this small island in 1850. Although the Industrias de Bordados was well established by the time Emile and Vera Way Marghab began their business, it was the Marghab's that raised quality standards to an unprecedented level. The exacting standards of Marghab Linens ensured them of being favorites among royalty, diplomats and admirers of fine things.

Marghab Linens Ltd. rapidly became internationally recognized for the quality and exacting detail of its beautiful linens. Designs were hand embroidered by the most skilled embroiderers. The embroideries were done on fabrics of the finest linen from Ireland, and on Margandie®, a crisp yet transparent fabric imported form Switzerland. The floss that would embellish the fabric with design was specially dyed in England and France.

Since the closure of Marghab Linens Ltd. in 1980, hand embroidered linens continue to be made on the Island of Madeira by other firms. However, the level of perfection attained by Marghab Linens has not been matched. Marghab Linens are appreciated for their beauty, quality in design, materials, craftsmanship and their – Magnificence.

Are any of you fortunate enough to have any of Marghab linens in your collection? How did you get them and what are the designs? I would love to hear!


Anonymous said...

What an interesting post and how very beautiful these examples are Kathleen. No, I don't have any but what a treasure they would be.

peggy said...

I would love to be able to recognize these. I have some scraps that are similar but what is the chance they are the real thing?

Gina E. said...

This was a fascinating topic, Kathleen - very informative. It makes me realise just how little I know about the history of some of my linens. Some of them look very much like the linens in your photographs, but like Peggy said, what is the chance they are the real thing? If I remember to do it, I'll dig out my samples and photograph them, and email them to you for your advice.

Anonymous said...

they are quite the work.

deleted my old blogs by mistake.

Ev said...

Great comments. I guess I need to have my linens appraised. The Marghab 12 piece place setting is in the original box. The round placemats are 14" in diameter, the goblet mats are 5" in diameter and the square napkins are 17". They are light gray with scalloped edges and it looks like connecting coma's.