A woodblock inset for a tillet block

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A woodblock inset for a tillet block

When the city's cloth trade was at its height in the late 17th and early 18th centuries its reputation was maintained by a system of careful quality controls. Before cloth could be exported from Exeter and Topsham it was first inspected for size and quality and then wrapped in coarse cloth known as tillet. The wrappers were then stamped using official wood-blocks which recorded the quality and length of each piece. These were grand affairs measuring more than a foot square, elaborately carved with such motifs as the Royal Arms of England. A set of carved tillet stamps from the Exeter Custom House now forms part of the city museum collection; nearly all the stamps date to the reign of George II (1727-60).