Lace Smuggling


Back in the heyday of handmade lace, it was an extremely valuable commodity. There were also sumptuary laws which stopped people of certain classes wearing lace, plus wearing lace from a foreign country was often banned.

In A History of Lace, Fanny Bury Palliser writes:

“…When a deceased clergyman was conveyed from the Low Countries for internment, the body of the corpse was found to have disappeared, and to have been replaced by Flanders lace of immense value – the head, and hands, and feet alone remaining.”

And if this wasn’t gruesome enough…

“At a certain time, Belgium introduced much lace into France… with the aid of dressed-up dogs. The dog was fed handsomely in France, then taken to Belgium where he was chained, abused, and barely fed. After a time the skin of a larger dog was fitted on it, and the intervening space stuffed with lace. The dog was then released and made its way back to France with its cargo, guided from the memory of better times. This maneuver was repeated until eventually French Customs was alerted and took steps to stop it; but it lasted several years, and from 1820 to 1836, no fewer than 40,278 dogs” were detected and destroyed by French Customs.”

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