Vintage Semco Pattern Books

I was excited to see these two vintage semco pattern books on ebay a couple of weeks ago. The green cover is book number 16, and the blue cover is number 19. The other book is a coats-mercer collection “tatting”. The books arrived a few days ago. I was able to recognize that the Semco books contain Norma Benporath patterns, and this was confirmed inside the cover 🙂 I was a little disappointed that both books have only a few different patterns, with the majority of the patterns are replicated in each volume. I wonder if this is the same with any other books in the semco series?


Until next time, happy tatting.
Fiona T



Filed under Patterns

4 responses to “Vintage Semco Pattern Books

  1. Judith Anderson

    Norma was an Australian, apparently living in Queensland. Semco was the thread that she recommended to her readers. She authored a multi-year series of newspaper articles in the Queenslander newspaper and another. These newspapers have been scanned by the Australian National Library and are available on-line, free to the internet savvy public. The newspaper collections are found in the “TROVE”. She stopped the newspaper patterns about the time she would have had to start preparing patterns for her tatting book.

    More recently, the Semco thread company has made available their tatting books, online,for free, through the Australian National Library. I have been trying to discover how many different patterns she designed. Are the newspaper and book patterns different? are they different from one newspaper to the other? Are there overlaps with the Semco publications? I’ve been busy on other tasks, so its been a year at least since I’ve examined her works. You’ll find a link to Trove in the Craftree website.


    • Thanks for that Judith. I have been following the TROVE collection closely for the last few years, and test tatted and diagrammed a pattern from this site in 2013: TROVE is a fabulous resource. I hadn’t realised the semco books were now on TROVE, and look forward to delving into them soon!

      Yes- there is a difference between the stitch counts in the books and newspaper. While she did design a number of patterns for newspaper and books, there are many patterns that look the same in both the book and newspaper, but when I have tatted them there are different stitch counts in each version: So, perhaps, there are more patterns and adaptations of the designs she made than we think. I think that the newspaper ones would have been syndicated, and so may not differ when printed in newspapers, but perhaps there were issues with copyright and for Norma to have books in her name she needed to adapt the pattern counts? That is my guess…it would be nice to know more about this. I have yet to check the books, TROVE and the semco publications- that sounds like a fun investigation for another day 🙂 Thanks for stopping by my blog- it would be great if you wanted to do a guest post about what you have found so far. Also Jon Yusoff has test tatted a number of Norma’s patterns from trove, and they are on her tatting blog: Worth a look if you haven’t stopped past there already 🙂

  2. It’s ages since I left you a comment, not that I have not seen your great work just not been that well at times. I was interested to see you had got a copy of the Coars tatting book, I was only looking at my copy a few days ago. Not seen the secco books before they look interesting perhaps I should look at eBay occassionly.

    • Hi Margaret, sorry to hear you haven’t been well. I hope you are improving. The semco books I don’t see too often, apparently they ar on TROVE now, so perhaps you can access them that way, before committing to buy them. I looked through the booklets again last night, and I think they are identical. Good to have you back in the comments 🙂

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