One of my passions is collecting antique Paisley shawls, Kashmiri, Persian and European. The hunt for them is especially exciting. I have found many excellent shawls through internet auctions, but the most fun is going to flea markets, especially in Paris. My favorite is the Porte de Vanves market. I always find something fascinating. Featured here is my most recent acquisition.
I was impressed by the excellent condition of the shawl, but fell in love with the rich colors and intricate detail. After inspecting it more carefully at home, I noticed initials in each of the four corners, GF and what looked like a Maltese cross. Researching Monique Levi-Strauss's book Cachemires Parisiens, I discovered that it was manufactured by Gaussen Fargeton. The Maltese cross signifies the Legion d'Honneur and it was used between 1850 and 1857, so this dates the shawl very accurately. Gaussen Fargeton received a medal at the Paris Universal Exhibition in 1855.
The white text seen above says "Cachemire pure"
The "gates" at two ends can be seen above. I doubt that the dealer at the flea market knew that the shawl was signed or I would imagine he would have pointed it out. Needless to say I am thrilled with my find.