Mary Ann Beinecke Collection of Decorative Art


Mary Ann Beinecke (1927 – 2014) was a textile designer, weaver, and author.  She lived in Williamstown, MA for several years, becoming actively involved in the redevelopment of nearby North Adams, a former mill town at that time in economic decline. There she helped to restore several mill buildings, in one of which she ran a design studio and founded a guild system for crafts.  Prior to that she founded and directed the Nantucket School of Needlery, which was then the only licensed school of needlework in the country.  Later in her life she founded an artisan shop in Waldoboro, Maine that recreated historic wool yarns. 
Over the course of her career she assembled a collection of more than 1200 books on textiles and decorative arts.  She donated her book collection to the Clark library in 1977, making the entire collection available to scholars in one location.
The Mary Ann Beinecke Decorative Art Collection spans 400 years, from 1550 to the 1970’s. It includes books, journals, and sample books on decorative arts, in particular those arts having to do with textile design, handicrafts, and the history of costume.  Gorgeously illustrated books on interior decoration offer glimpses into the trends of the late nineteenth century. Other volumes provide rich reference material on the history of such products as ink, wallpaper, dyes, handmade lace, carpets and rugs, and textiles. Crochet, knitting and needlework pattern books that once provided instruction and inspiration for hand work projects now inform us about the aesthetics of their time. Sample books contain swatches of French silk, laces and trims, and Japanese silks and brocades in rich colors and patterns.

Most of the Mary Ann Beinecke Decorative Art collection is in the library's Rare Book Room, but many readily-available titles can be found on the open library shelves.  Just over 400 of the rare books have been digitized and are available online.

This rich and fascinating collection spans a wide range of subjects, a brief sampling of which is given below.  Explore the images to the right for more examples.

Japanese textile design and sample books

Japanese Decorated Silk. [sample book]. (Japan: [no date])


Books on ornament and design

Floriated ornament: a series of thirty-one designs. Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin. (London: Henry G. Bone, 1849).


Dye manufacturers’ formula books

[Detail] Dyer's Handbook: Containing about 200 valuable recipes...  Frederick J. Bird.  (Manchester & London: John Heywood, 1875)

Books on fashion and costume

Follies & fashions of our grandfathers (1807): embellished with thirty-seven whole-page plates including ladies' and gentlemen's dress...  Tuer, Andrew White.  (London: Field & Tuer, 1886 and 1887)


Weavers’ pattern books from the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries

Weber Kunst Buch.  [Germany?]. [1600-1699?]


Books and manuscripts on crafts such as lacemaking, embroidery, needlework

[Detail] Lace Instructions.  Eunice Coffin.  (Manuscript with samples, 1859)

Sample books of 19th and 20th-century fabrics and trims

[Detail]  Sample book of trims.  Lobres Freres, Lyon, France ([Lyon, 18??])

One-of-a-kind manuscript manuals on textile manufacturing

De la fabrique d'etoffes.  Handwritten instruction manual with samples. ([Lyon, 1842-1851?])

Explore the Collection

Floriated Ornament: A Series of thirty-one designs. Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin. (London: Henry G. Bone, 1849)
Design Book, Volume 2.  Staub, Theodore Vivian.  (Manuscript manual created for City of Bradford Technical College, 1912-1913)
Costume en orient. Max Tilke.  (Paris: Gaston Hue, [1922])
[Detail] Japanese Designs from Ukiyoe Prints. (Japan: [no date])
Art of William Morris.  Aymer Vallance. (London: George Bell & Sons, 1897)
Japanese Kimono Designs, Volume 2.  ([Japan], [no date])
[Detail] Book of delightful and strange designs : being one hundred facsimile illustrations of the art of the Japanese stencil-cutter, to which the gentle reader is introduced...  Andrew White Tuer. (London: Leadenhall Press, [1893])
[Detail] Wild flowers of America: flowers of every state in the American Union. Vol. 1., No. 04. (New York: G.H. Buek, 1894)
Art of illuminating as practiced in Europe from the earliest times.  W. R. Tymms.  (London: Day & Son, 1860)
Encyclopaedia of colour decoration from the earliest times to the middle of the XIXth century. Helmuth Theodor Bossert. (Berlin: Ernst Wasmuth, 1928)
[Detail] Examples of Chinese ornament selected from objects in the South Kensington museum and other collections.  Owen Jones.  (London: S. & T. Gilbert, 1867)
Album na bŭlgarski makedonski shevitsi = Album de broderies macédoniennes bulgares. Raina Rumenova. ([Sophia?]: Makedonski Zhenski Cuiuz, [1926?])