This has been like a bible to me and it has been treasured - it is in virtually mint condition. These two titanic volumes are lavish and are nearly 1,200 pages long. There are more than three hundred illustrations (forty of which are in color) and demonstrate Cambridge University Press's publishing standards at their best.
The volumes are divided into five parts that survey the ancient world to A.D. 1000 (178 pages), the medieval period (215 pages), the early modern period (322 pages), the nineteenth century (214 pages), and the twentieth century (182 pages). The analysis of textiles in prehistorical, Greek and Roman, and early medieval times is full of insights.
The volumes are particularly strong for the medieval and early modern periods. Although all textiles and clothing were made with a limited number of fibers (silk, hemp and flax, wool and cotton), the complexity of fibers' mixes, of spinning, weaving, and finishing techniques, and the variety of colors made the market extremely segmented and the diversity of fabrics available to consumers nearly limitless. Such richness comes out fully in essays that deal with demand, in particular those essays on medieval textiles, on cotton, lace, early modern tapestries, and on furnishing.
While in the medieval and early modern parts of this work, particular attention is dedicated to woolen and worsted textiles, cotton is the center of attention in the first part of volume two dedicated to the nineteenth century. A series of particularly thorough essays propose a well-rehearsed narrative of economic development starting with cotton and the industrial revolution, passing through wool, silk, and linen to arrive to more dress-related topics on hosiery, machine-made lace, textile design and furnishing and dress.
The Recommended Retail Price of this 2 volume set is a penny under £360 but you can have it all for less than a third of that price.