Coventry was the centre of silk weaving in the mid 19th century, but after the introduction of a free trade agreement in 1860 that removed import duties on silks, brocades and ribbons, and a change in fashions, the silk ribbon industry in Coventry was no longer competitive. This led to financial difficulties for the weaving factories, and they looked for ways to diversify.
About 1862, one of the weavers, Thomas Stevens was able to complete modifications to his ribbon weaving Jacquard looms to produce multi-coloured woven silk pictures, which he called Stevengraphs. As well as pictures often featuring horse racing, foxhunting, or portraits, he produced woven silk bookmarks, greeting cards and postcards. The pictures were a standard size of 5 1/2 inches x 2 1/2 inches.
Stevens was able to successfully market his products and he dominated the woven silk market from the 1860's until 1940 more...
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