PLATE 11
This Plate representing a Perspective View of a Lapping Room, with the Measuring, Crisping or Folding the Cloth in Lenghts, picking the Laps or Lenghts, Tying in the Clips, acting by the Machine power of the Laver to press the Cloth round & firm and Sealing it preparatory to its going to the Linen Hall
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Throughout the first half of the eighteenth century the most important men in the linen trade were the linen drapers or merchants who purchased brown linens from the weavers in the markets and had them bleached on commission before taking them to Dublin to sell in the White Linen Hall. By the time of this engraving, however, the bleachers were beginning to displace the drapers: some drapers took up bleaching as well while many bleachers employed their own buyers in the brown linen markets. They invested the profits of their bleachgreens in linen that they exported direct to London and Chester rather than through Dublin. It was estimated that more than two-thirds of all the linen woven in Ireland was exported and that ninety per cent of all exports in the eighteenth century went to Britain. The success of the bleachers in gaining control over the trade was responsible for much of its future success. As buyers of the linen the bleachers were able to reward the best weavers and attack malpractices; they benefited directly from the improvements they introduced in bleaching methods; and they were able to respond to changing market demands. In the long term it was the bleachers who organised the response of the industry to the challenge of new technology.

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Living Linen