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19th c. calico fragment
MFA # 98.1816
19th c. calico fragment
MFA# 98.1806


An inexpensive, plain weave Cotton fabric with a printed design on one side. Calico cloth originated in Calicut, India, by the 11th century and is one of the oldest cotton cloths. Early examples of calico were resist-dyed or stamped to produce colored designs on a light background. The term 'calico' now refers to any cotton fabric printed with a small repetitive designs in one or more colors. In Britain, the term 'calico' is also used for a plain white cotton fabric, similar to Muslin, but slightly heavier. Calico is used for saris, dresses, aprons, and occasional bookcovers.

Calico cotton print

Synonyms and Related Terms

Calicut cloth; calicot (Fr.); calicot (soort katoenstof) (Ned); bedrukte katoenstof (Ned);


  • Dust covers
  • Stuffing support

Collection Risks

Links to Oddy Test results posted on AIC Wiki Materials Database Pages for individual materials below

° John Ranger Calico Tested in 2016

° Calico Tested in 2016

° Natural Calico Tested in 2012

Resources and Citations

  • Rosalie Rosso King, Textile Identification, Conservation, and Preservation, Noyes Publications, Park Ridge, NJ, 1985
  • Matt Roberts, Don Etherington, Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books: a Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington DC, 1982
  • Edward Reich, Carlton J. Siegler, Consumer Goods: How to Know and Use Them, American Book Company, New York City, 1937
  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 247
  • Hermann Kuhn, Conservation and Restoration of Works of Art and Antiquities, Butterworths, London, 1986
  • Kurt Wehlte, The Materials and Techniques of Painting, Van Nostrand Reinhold Co., New York, 1975