|A mystery package|
This treasure was on the "Buy before it gets thrown out" table at the consignment thrift place. It cost me 2 bucks. I was fishing for cheap unwanted vintage linens, because I love them and want to use them and my budget is small. I flipped over an unassuming plastic bag, read the abandoned family history within and was filled with sadness. I wondered how it ended up there.
I felt compelled to buy it and find out more and maybe get it to a descendant, or document it for the local historical society. Or at least make sure it isn't lost to time. This was precious. It should still be precious.
|Note pinned to smaller linen item|
Inside this ignominious package is the towel with its darkly yellowed note, and a pin that once held the two together, a very, very worn smaller piece, with its own pin and very yellowed note simply reading "More German Linen," and another, longer note, with more history that hints at some other items that are now lost.
|Damask stripe pattern|
|One end of towel|
The towel (22.5" x 44") is exquisite, elaborately handwoven damask in a warp faced stripe, 1" wide alternating with 1" bands of 4-thread warp faced/weft faced pinstripes and a selvedge treatment of a 2" wide band of 8-thread pinstripes.
|Detail of hand stitching at hems|
|Hem pattern cross striping forming checks|
|One end of the towel is very worn and has small holes, possibly from being hung on a hook.|
|There are two handwoven plainweave linen tapes for hanging, one at each end.|
|Detail of unused hanging loop|
|Backlit, the faded and worn monogramming is visible|
|Smaller linen square held up to light, showing handspun threads and transparency|
|Monogram as seen when I first removed the second piece from the bag|
|back of monogram on napkin|
The back shows how carefully the stitching was done.
|worn and uneven selvedges|
|A section of the selvedge that is still in good condition|
|Worn selvedge, looks like there might be some slight mending|
The edges are a worn selvedge, two raw edges where hems or more cloth tore away, and the remaining 1/2" hem.
|This portion of hem looks original, the tiny whipped hem stitches are so finely done as to be nearly invisible|
|This area has been mended with a coarser running stitch in a yellower linen thread.|
|Transition of original hemstitching to mending|
I believe this was entirely Fredericka Berger's own work, most likely made under direction of her mother, a tutor or at a young ladies' finishing school for her own trousseau, depending on her social station. The linen thread is hand spun. The weaving, while fine, is clearly student quality, as the remaining selvedge on the second piece is a bit uneven. The hand stitching, however, is exquisite. Young eyes and small hands have an easier time with tiny hand stitches.
|Note pinned to towel|
The note from the towel reads "This is a German linen towel brought from Germany in 1849 by grandparents Wm and Fredericka (Berger) Dammann" and is pinned on the top left corner where it is folded with the bottom left corner, piercing both layers.
|Pencilled note, showing the delicate state of the paper|
The third note is falling to pieces and will require conservation. It is in the same delicate handwriting as the other two notes, but in pencil. It reads:
|Pencilled note, reassembled and scanned|
"M.R. beaded on one of these pairs of socks stands for Minette Ros- [tear obscures last letter], maiden name of Wm. Dammann's mother who never came over from Germany."
There are no socks in the bag.
So, this is my mystery. Or, really, someone's mystery. I just found it and brought it home.
German Emigration to America
History of linen weaving