The spinning of the fine thread used for lace-making in the Netherlands is an operation demanding so high a degree of exquisite skill, minute manipulation, and vigilant attention that it appears impossible that it can ever be taken from human hands by machinery. None but Belgian fingers are skilled in this art. The very finest sort of this thread is made in Brussels, in damp underground cellars, for it is so extremely delicate that it is liable to break by contact with the dry air above ground; and it is obtained in good condition only when made and kept in a humid, subterraneous atmosphere. There are numbers of old Belgian thread-makers who, like spiders, have passed the best part of their lives spinning in cellars. This sort of occupation naturally has an injurious effect on the health, and the eye-sight of the operatives is impaired at an early age.
This article was originally published with the title "Brussels Lace" in Scientific American 13, 40, 320 (June 1858)