During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries bobbin lace, gradually, became an increasingly important source of income for many Arboç families.In fact, already at the end of the 18th century it can be said that bobbin lace had established itself as an artisan industry and a very important source of income for many family.
At the beginning of the 19th century, important historical events took place in the country that affected daily life in l’Arboç.
In 1808, the war episode called “The burning of l’Arboç” takes place in Arboç, where according to the chronicler of the time, Anton Sans, although the heroic resistance demonstrated by the Arboç people, the town is sacked by the Napoleonic troops of the General Chabran, causing more than 60 casualties and burning about 40 houses.
This war episode is part of the French War, which lasted 6 years (1808-1814). In this period, l’Arboç suffers looting by French troops, and abusive taxes by patriotic troops. To this fact must be added that the war hindered trade and communications, therefore, economic activity, and that there were a large number of soldiers from both sides who had to feed themselves and satisfy their needs. All these conditioning factors really made life very difficult around the world. An example is the drought of the year 1811-1812 that caused great hunger and apart from the looting and abusive taxes, on top of that they had to feed the exercised on both sides.
But the bobbin lace industry, despite difficult times, continued with unusual vitality and strength. The important role of women in the lace industry meant that this economic activity was not classified as of military interest and that, despite the difficulties that affected everyone in their daily lives, the economic activity related to lace bobbins will even increase and each time it was considered as a more important source of income for many families. In fact, in many families where the man had died or had been recruited, bobbin lace became a main activity.
All these facts lead to an increase in activity and an increasingly marked professionalization of the sector in the first quarter of the 19th century. Thus, the bobbin lace industry in l’Arboç, which was already fully consolidated at the end of the 18th century, became professional and internationalized during the first quarter of the 19th century. So much so that in 1827 a delegation of Arbosenses went to the Paris exhibition to show their lace with a clear intention of opening markets.
It was thus, overcoming the circumstances, with a lot of effort and doing things very well done from a strategic, economic and artisan point of view that the lace industry in the town of l’Arboç became a benchmark nationwide. Throughout the 19th century and until the first third of the 20th century, L’Arboç became a lace distribution center and the lace merchants of l‘Arboç sold their goods all over the planet from the Spanish colonial empire.
The year 1920 is considered one of the high points of the lace industry in l’Arboç, since the “I Local Bobbin Lace Exhibition” is organized for the people. Where the most important lace merchants of the moment (e.g. Casa Rosa Cinta, Vives, etc.) exhibited their products as a showcase that attracted numerous entrepreneurs from the sector.
L’Arboç lace was known for three basic qualities, its fineness, its delicacy and the originality of its ornamental motifs.In l’Arboç the most difficult and complicated pieces were made that only the most expert hands could weave.The fame that the lace of l’Arboç gained made it possible today to affirm that there is no European royal house or any ruler of the 20th century that does not have a lace made in l’Arboç.Many lace made in l’Arboç still decorate many palaces and are incorporated into the national treasures of many countries.
The lace industry, contrary to what one might think at first, was an economic sector that employed many types of professionals and not only lacemakers.
Behind the production process of any piece of bobbin lace hides the work of up to five types of specialized professionals:
- Designer: is the person who makes the designs taking into account the trends and fashions of the time.
- Pattern maker: is the person who transforms the design into a pattern and decides what type of braid should go in each area
- Picador: it is the person who chops the pattern, that is, depending on the type of braid, it makes some holes where the lacemakers will later put the needles.
- Lacemaker: is the person who, with the chopped pattern, thread and bobbins, makes a piece or part of a piece on his cushion and at the request of the textile entrepreneur.
- Assembler: Many pieces, either because of their dimensions, or simply to avoid that later exclusive designs could be copied, they were made in parts. The different parts of the piece were woven by different lacemakers and then there was the assembler, who was nothing more than the person who put them together. Normally it was the most expert lacemakers and those with the finest hands who were entrusted with this task, which was very delicate. A poorly assembled part could not be sold.
Apart from the work of this five professional profiles, there was the work of the entrepreneur, who was the head of production, the director of everything, and the person in charge of placing on the market, that is, selling, the parts that were produced.The lace entrepreneurs were also specialized, there were those who only made handkerchiefs, or blankets, strips, applications, etc.
Normally, each entrepreneur had his business network.
The businessman had a sample book with which he went to specialized stores in Barcelona, Reus, Valencia, Zaragoza, Madrid and other major cities and export centers, to order gender. Once he had the orders, the businessman started up all the machinery and made the structure work.
This is how the lace entrepreneurs forged a true industry that generated great dynamism in l’Arboç for more than 100 years.