Basel, dated 1776
H 200 x W 240 x D 140 cm
Basel’s silk-ribbon industry was initiated by refugees from the Netherlands and France in the early days of the 17th century. Only when Basel’s weavers succeeded in reconstructing a loom designed by the wool weaver Emanuel Hoffmann of Haarlem in the Netherlands around 1670 did they at last gain the edge over their French competitors. These looms, on which several ribbons could be woven simultaneously, were operated by cottage ribbon weavers out in the countryside. The mechanics of the loom remained unchanged even after electrification and the mounting on the side of a small Jacquard mechanism for the more efficient weaving of patterns. It was the manufacture of dyes for dyeing silk and the sale of such substances that paved the way for the emergence of the chemical industry towards the end of the 19th century.