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The collections

The manufactures' buildings and furniture

"Experton Frère & Soeur" stock

In 1899, the 3 chidren of Régis Experton, lace manufacturer from Chamalières-sur-Loire (4 km away from Retournac), start the "Experton Frères & Sœur" enterprise, which becomes in 1903, after the departure of one of the brothers, the "Experton Frère & Sœur" compagny with Auguste and Claire running it. In 1913 they build a large manufacture, which today houses the museum.

Collections : furniture and tools belonging to the workshop operating chain, lace pattern (about 20000 models for frills, straight lace, inserts, house linen, handkerchieves, lingerie, church linen, etc.), sample-books, stocks of lace yardage, of inserts and lace framings for linen, archives.

"Auguste Experton & Fils" stock
1932 sees the break-up of the family enterprise. Each starts its own lace manufacture in Retournac : Auguste Experton builds a new one further uphill, "Auguste Experton & Fils", which will cease its activity between 1975 and 1980.
Collections : the building, the workshop preserved in its original order, with the whole of its furniture, its archives, its lace patterns (around 5000) and
stock and a remarkable stock of textile and Art Deco documentation for designers including 65000 documents, such as paisley design (1810-1845), studies of flowers (1846-1849), silk sample-albums (1831-1930), etc.

Experton Frère & Soeur manufacture with the workshop staff, postcard circa 1917-1918Auguste Experton et Fils manufacture

"Claire Experton & Cie" stock

In 1932, Claire Experton carries on in the original building ; she starts a partnership with Blanche Gayat, the ex-supervisor of "Experton Frère & Sœur". The manufacture is then re-named "Claire Experton & Cie".
In 1937, "Claire Experton & Cie" is awarded a gold medal during the Paris Arts and Techniques International Exhibition.

Collections : furniture, models (around 5000, some of which "Art Déco" style and some remarkable projects for house linen with flower inserts in colour dating 1940 à 1960), yardage, archives (including the diploma and gold medal of 1937).

After the death of Claire Experton and Blanche Gayat in 1948, the heirs sold the enterprise in 1953. In 1973, the manufacture is bought by the Alibert family, lace makers from Craponne-sur-Arzon (20 Km away from Retournac). Francis Alibert, manager, directs the production towards house linen made with bobbin-lace and with mechanical lace.
In 1984 Francis Alibert converts the lower ground floor of the building into a mechanical workshop with 34 circular braiding machines. The enterprise shuts down in 1997.

Collections : stock of around 5000 designs on tracing paper of models for yardage, dresses, linen from 1880-1920, mechanical workshop in its original state with its 34 circular braiding machines, around 10000 patterns and 3800 jacquard models, stock of mechanical lace.

Fonds "Surrel"
En-tête de la fabrique de dentelles 'Surrel Frères' à Craponne-sur-Arzon  - Cliquez pour agrandir -

Around 1941, Auguste Experton purchases a part of the stock and models from an important hand-lace manufacture in Craponne-sur-Arzon : "Surrel Frères" which activity spanned from 1853 to the end of the 1930's.

Collections : around 38000 pricked cards (1850-1930), sample-albums, furniture and around 10000 samples of bobbin-lace.


"Homard" stock
Before the Second World War, Auguste Experton purchases the stock and models of the "Jean-François Homard" enterprise, small hand-lace manufacture from Saint-Pal-en-Chalencon (25 km away from Retournac).

Collections : around 4000 pricked cards a reference album, stock of inserts and samples.

"Chouchette/ Babytextil" stock

"Chouchette/Babytextil" is an old baby clothes factory purchased by Paul Experton (Auguste Experton's son) in 1946 so as to diversify the lace industry.

Collections : sets of baby clothes (1950-1970).

"Tissages de Retournac" stock

In 1929 the Experton family builds a silk weaving workshop : "les Tissages de Retournac". The workshop was closed in 1951.

Collections : selection of machines representing the weaving activity (warper, warper-pins winder, weaving looms).

"Fouilly-Experton" stock

In 1994, Retournac's council acquires some parts of this old manufacture closed in 1992. It was funded in 1903 by François-Joseph Experton, brother of Auguste and Claire Experton. His daughter Aimée, married Auguste Fouilly, son of an important lace manufacture from Craponne-sur-Arzon. They funded the "Fouilly-Experton" enterprise.

Collections : furniture, sample-albums, stock items, pricked cards.



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