BOOK LAUNCH: The Holker Album. Textile Samples and Industrial Espionage in the 18th Century

09/02/2023, 5:00 pm

Please join our colleagues at the Maison Française d’Oxford for this book launch in the presence of Arianne Fennetaux (Université Paris Cité) & John Styles (University of Hertfordshire/Victoria and Albert Museum)

Convenor: François-Joseph Ruggiu (MFO)

Venue: Maison Française d’Oxford, 2-10 Norham Road OX2 6SE

In 1751, John Holker (1719-1786), an English textile manufacturer exiled in France, undertook an industrial espionage mission to England to collect samples of English textiles on behalf of the French king, Louis XV. On his return, the samples were assembled in a manuscript volume, which is now preserved at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris. Each sample in this album is accompanied by a handwritten technical description specifying the quality of the fabric, its price, its dimensions and the manufacturing processes. This album is famous for preserving the oldest identifiable samples of jean fabric.

Completely bilingual, the book includes a facsimile reproduction of the album, accompanied by a transcription of its handwritten text and a dozen essays. The essays, written by academics, curators and specialists from France, Britain, and North America, explore the album from various angles: the globalisation of commerce, the slave trade, industrial espionage, economic rivalry between France and England, the taste for cotton and its role in the history of fashion, etc. The book demonstrates the importance of centuries-old links between France and the United Kingdom and is an indispensable work of reference for the history of textiles.


Attendance is free but please register under this link.

Voltaire Foundation

We use cookies to help give you the best experience on our website. By continuing without changing your cookie settings, we assume you agree to this. Please read our cookie policy to find out more. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.