Electric Jacquard loom

Victorian illustration to download showing an electric Jacquard loom invented by Gaetano Bonelli, active in the Italian silk industry in the 1850s. In a standard Jacquard loom, used for weaving fabrics with complex patterns, the warp threads were controlled using a system of punched cards – a complex pattern could need many thousands of these. In Bonelli’s electric loom, the pattern was painted on a revolving tinfoil band using black varnish, which was a non-conductor. Electro-magnets became active or inactive according to the pattern as the band revolved, and they were connected to hooks which controlled the warp threads. Punched cards were expensive, time-consuming and labour-intensive, so Bonelli’s machine saved time and money.