Exactly What is Marco Polo's
Connection with 'Venetian Blinds'?

It is believed that the venetian blind as we know it today first appeared in Venice, Italy around the late 12th century. It is believed by some, though hard to confirm, that Marco Polo may have brought the first venetian blinds or at least the design for the construction of the venetian blind from China, along with gun powder, ice cream and spaghetti.

Apparently this new blind became quite popular in Venice and eventually spread through Europe. It is likely that the blind was named not by the Venetians but rather by the English who were quite partial to this new style of window covering. The venetian blind crossed the Atlantic to the new world where it was even more popular than in Europe. The abundance of wood in the new world along with the shortage of textiles perhaps fueled the popularity of the Venetian Blind in the American Colonies. This goes without mention of the growing resentment on the part of the colonists towards England and her taxes on everything including textiles. The many craftsmen and furniture and cabinetmakers who took up blinds as a sideline to their regular trade made the blinds almost common in the 18th and 19th centuries. A quick look at Williamsburg , Virginia or Old Town Pennsylvania will confirm this popularity.

The 'Venetian Blind' remained very popular up through the 1890's but fell out of favor around the turn of the 20th century giving way to the ever more popular interior shutter, often called folding blinds or hinged blinds.

Wooden blinds then made a comeback in the late 1920's remaining fashionable until World War II when the aluminum or steel blind made its debut. This new metal blind was certainly functional as far as providing privacy and protection from the harsh rays of the sun but it was far from attractive. Never the less it was inexpensive and thus commonly used often with curtains or draperies. The blind did not see its next re-invention until 1970 when the Levelor company introduced the 'mini blind' with invisible tapes, one hundred and one colors and the ubiquitous 'magic wand'. In the 1980's the wooden blind has returned to popularity and has remained so for 2 decades. Marco Polo may be proud if he were to return today.

We at DeVenco have restored or re-manufactured many blinds from historic buildings throughout the country. See our Reference Page for a short list of these properties.

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