Ribbon (formerly spelled riband and riban; Fr. ruban), a narrow strip of woven silk, either plain or ornamented. The manufacture of ribbons first attained great importance in the 17th century. About 1680 embossed ribbons were much in fashion, as they are again becoming (1875). They are stamped with hot plates of steel, each piece having a portion of the pattern engraved upon it. Figured ribbons were made chiefly at Paris, but Lyons and Avignon were also largely engaged in the manufacture until after 1723, when the former had secured most of the trade. Before the revocation of the edict of Nantes (1685) there were about 3,000 ribbon looms in Tours; but that measure, which banished the Protestants, broke up the industry. The city of St. Étienne, the chief town in the department of Loire, is now the principal seat of the ribbon manufacture in the world. The annual consumption of silk there is about 435,000 kilogrammes, and the manufactured product is worth about 65,000,000 francs. Four fifths of all the ribbons in France, and the finest and heaviest in the world, are made here, and about 28,000 workmen and 15,000 looms are employed.
Basel in Switzerland is the second place in importance for the manufacture of ribbons, and a large portion of the medium grades imported to the United States come from here. Most of the Basel ribbons are plain or simply striped. In France and Switzerland all ribbons as well as dress silks are made on hand looms, which is the principal reason for the superiority in the French goods. It requires frequent manipulation in silk weaving to preserve a perfect evenness of tension and disposition of the threads, and all power-woven silk fabrics are disposed to "cockle" or crimp in places. Crefeld in Rhenish Prussia is another important place of manufacture, but nearly all its ribbons are black and plain. The ribbon industry is spread through the country, and is divided into small establishments, averaging from 20 to 50 looms each, and power is sometimes employed. In England ribbons are mostly made at Coventry, and with power looms. The warp of the best ribbons is made from the best organzine, thrown from the best Italian and French raw silk. For inferior sorts, silk from China, Japan, and Bengal is used, the last being the poorest.
In the fancy ribbon called chiné the watered effect is produced by an irregularity in the surface caused by passing two ribbons laid together between two cylinders, one of which is heated. - Galloons, strong thick ribbons, the filling composed of cotton, are mostly made in England on power looms.