This border is best considered in its separate components since the bobbin lace is clearly of a different texture and rather crudely stitched to the cutwork, indicating that it was a later addition.
The cutwork band was probably made during the second half of the 16th century and SEM analysis confirms that is made of hemp, the remnants of which show that it is quite coarsely woven. This style of cutwork is sometimes described as reticella. Its scale suggests that it was originally a trimming for domestic linen. The design and construction of the main central section of the band consisting of circles and semi-circles alternating with broken circles, is typical of the period.
The bobbin lace, which SEM analysis confirms as cotton, is a design of the first half of the 17th century, which might have trimmed a collar or cuffs. It uses the continuous bobbin lace technique in which pattern and ground are worked together with the one set of threads, so that the wider the lace the more threads are used. The smoothness and regularity of the cotton thread suggest that it may have been made in the 19th century, despite the early use of cotton.
Bobbin lace was not valued as highly as the embroidered and needle laces until well into the 17th century. However, hand-made lace of all kinds was considered precious and was never discarded until it was beyond repair. This accounts for mis-matched pieces such as this one which were assembled from lace salvaged from worn-out items to be re-used.
See also Classification System pages 4 and 10 (http://www.powerhousemuseum.com/pdf/research/classification.pdf )
and Glossary page 6. (http://www.powerhousemuseum.com/pdf/research/glossary.pdf)
Rosemary Shepherd - March 2010