Jacquard loom, c 1825.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
The Jacquard loom, developed by the Frenchman Joseph Marie Jacquard (1752-1834) in 1804, enabled a loom to weave figured cloth. It was based on an earlier invention by the French mechanic Falcon in 1728. In this machine, the warp (lengthways thread) is divided at each pick so that the weft (sideways thread) goes over or under the warp threads according to the pattern being woven. The pattern is first drawn on squared paper and this drawing is used to prepare punched cards that determine which warp threads are to be raised during the weaving proces. At Jacquard's death his loom was in almost universal use. This particular model, shown on display in the 'Making the Modern World' gallery at the Science Museum, has 400 needles and was made in Spitalfields, London, in 1825.