Gold and Silver thread
: Under this heading some general account may be given of gold and silver strips and threads used in connection with varieties of weaving, embroidery and twisting and plaiting or lace work. To this day, in many oriental centres where it seems that early traditions of the knowledge and the use of fabrics fully or partly woven, ornamented, and embroidered with gold and silver have been maintained, the passion for such brilliant and costly textiles is still strong and prevalent.
, the preparation of varieties of gold and silver threads is an ancient and important art. The gold wire of the manufacturer has been and is as a rule silver wire gilt, the silver wire being, of course, composed of pure silver. The wire is drawn by means of simple draw-plates, with rude and simple appliances, from rounded bars of silver, or gold-plated silver, as the case may be. The wire is flattened into strip, tinsel or ribbon-like form, by passing fourteen or fifteen strands simultaneously, over a fine, smooth, round-topped anvil and beating each as it passes with a heavy hammer having a slightly convex surface. Such strips or tinsel of wire so flattened are woven into Indian soniri, tissue or cloth of gold, the web or warp being composed entirely of golden strips, and ruperi, similar tissue of silver. Other gold and silver threads suitable for use in embroidery, pillow and needlepoint lace making, consist of fine strips of flattened wire wound round cores of orange (in the case of silver, white) silk thread so as to completely cover them. Wires flattened or partially flattened are also twisted into exceedingly fine spirals and much used for heavy embroideries.
The demand for many kinds of loom-woven and embroidered gold and silver work in India
is immense, and the variety of textiles so ornamented is also very great, chief amongst which are the golden or silvery tinsel fabrics known as kincobs.
Amongst Western communities the demand for gold and silver embroideries and braid lace existed chiefly in connection with naval, military and other uniforms, masonic insignia, court costumes, public and private liveries, ecclesiastical robes and draperies and theatrical dresses.
The proportions of gold and silver in the gold thread for the woven braid lace or ribbon trade varies, but in all cases the proportion of gold is exceedingly small. An ordinary gold braid wire is drawn from a bar containing 90 parts of silver and 7 of copper, and plated with 3 of gold. On an average each ounce troy of a bar so plated is drawn into 1500 yards of wire; and therefore about 16 grains of gold cover one metre of wire.