Thanks to Fran on the GBACGCostumers Yahoo group, I’ve discovered the Powerhouse Museum’s Electronic Swatchbook. Swatchbooks were designed so that fabric manufacturers, agents and merchants could show samples of their fabrics. The museum has scanned several from their collection from the 1830s through the 1920s. What’s cool is you can not only browse by year but also by color. The swatches themselves are scanned in high res and you can zoom in really closely.
A great resource for dating fabrics and identifying good reproductions!