Osnaburg was a coarse type of plain textile fabric, named for the city of Osnabrück (from which it may have been first imported into English-speaking countries). Originally made from flax yarns, it has been made from either flax, tow or jute yarns, sometimes flax or tow warp with mixed or jute weft, and often entirely of jute. The finer and better qualities form a kind of common sheeting, and the various kinds may contain from 20 to 36 threads per inch and 10 to 15 picks per inch.
It began to be woven in Scotland as an imitation from a German import of a coarse lint or tow-based linen cloth in the later 1730s. It quickly became the most important variety in East-Central Scotland. Sales quadrupled, from 0.5 million yards in 1747 to 2.2 million yards in 1758. It was exported mainly to England, the Netherlands and Britain's colonies in America, and some rough fabrics were called "osnaburg" as late as the mid-twentieth century. In the Atlantic plantation complex, prior to the abolition of slavery, osnaburg was the fabric most often used for slave garments.
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