[No: XCII | February 6, 2018 | By Viveka Hansen]

Imported luxury goods as well as various local stock from the Malmö merchants Falkman & Suell, can for instance be traced in existing accounts and receipts from the baron and cavalry captain Otto Wilhelm Mörner. Preserved silk embroideries and clothing are other proofs for the well-to-do inhabitants increasing demand for silk wares of all kind, even if often difficult to pinpoint where and by whom such fabrics once were in use. A few illustrations will accompany the written historical sources and preserved locally made silk textiles – in this late 18th century case study originating in southernmost Sweden.

These portraits give a rare insight into a wealthy Malmö couple’s style of dress, at the exact dates of 9th and 10th May in 1780. The detailed paintings depict the city clerk Johan Lorens Flensburg…

…and his wife Maria Catharina. Some of the fine muslins, silks, broadcloths and laces were probably purchased at the local merchants Falkman & Suell, who can be traced in historical documents as traders of various imported luxury goods. Oil on canvases by Martin David Roth. (Courtesy of: Malmö Museum, MHM 002003 & MHM 002004, Creative Commons).

The year 1775 was the start of a new era in Malmö, an extension of the harbour area gradually caused the city to expand and flourish. This was primarily due to that ships could by now dock in the harbour, whereas previously they had to anchor out in the road whilst goods were transported on barges to the coast. Prior to this period some detailed accounts from the shop owners/merchants Falkman & Suell have been preserved. Frans Suell (1744-1817) was not only the leading businessman in the harbour project, overall he had great financial influence in the city for many years. Some individuals of the nobility living close by, evidently purchased plenty of goods from his shop on half-year long credits. One of them was Otto Wilhelm Mörner (1733-1791) married to Ulrika Fredrika Piper (1732-1791), who lived at their manor house Toppeladugård about 25 kilometres from Malmö. The couple married in July 1771, the same year as some of the accounts were written – today kept at the Piper Family archive at Christinehof manor house. Imported goods purchased by Mörner from June to November in 1771 included for instance; black pepper, saffron, white sugar, coffee beans, nails, wax candles, lemons, olives and capris. Textiles and accessories listed were silk fabrics, gold thread, silver thread and camel yarn.

If it was possible to buy locally woven linen by the merchants Falkman & Suell or in other shops in Malmö is more uncertain. Many of the previous active weavers – as described in an earlier essay – had at this time got better working conditions at a castle or large manor house in the county of Skåne or as a craftsman in a nearby parish. In 1793 one master weaver only and one apprentice were still practising this profession in the city, according to the historian Ernst Fischer’s thorough research of linen weavers.

This quilted silk bedcover – with rich silk embroidery – is a typical example of textile furnishing that could have been used in wealthy homes of the city during the second half of the 18th century. However, as with many similar fine silk fabrics/items kept by the local museum, it is not known where it was used or even less so by whom it was stitched. (Courtesy of: Malmö Museum, MM 52381, part of). Photo: The IK Foundation, London.

A smaller number of late 18th century silk textiles – from the substantial collection of clothing, bedcovers, ribbons, pocketbooks, samplers etc at Malmö Museum – were evidently made or used locally at that period of time. One such item was a sampler embroidered with silk and wool on linen canvas by Anna Christina Pettersson (1788-1857) in 1795. She was a daughter to the local merchant Olof Pettersson (1746-1882) and his wife Lovisa Charlotta (née Faxe, 1766-1837). It was still foremost girls from well-to-do backgrounds in the ages from six to fifteen who stitched samplers for educational purposes, like the seven-year-old Anna Christina. Another local example is a small embroidered box, marked with the initials “ADB” and the year “1763”. The red silk fabric was decorated with appliqué of patterned silks, satin stitch of silk yarn and silver threads. This exquisite work was embroidered by the ten-year-old Anna Chatarina Bager (1753-1828), daughter to one of the merchant families of Malmö.

These three complex silk ribbons are probably of French import, used/owned by a wealthy citizen of København [Copenhagen] – a few miles across Öresund from Malmö. However, it is very likely that similar types of exquisite accessories were sold at the previously mentioned merchant Falkman & Suell. The illustrated ribbons originate from the 18th century, woven on multi-coloured silk warps, with weft of silk, gold and silver threads. Techniques include; pattern weft, brocading, double weaving and chiné. (Courtesy of: Kunstindustrimuseet, visit at the exhibition “Fashion & Fabric”). Photo: Viveka Hansen.

Previous post in this series:
‘Woollen Manufacturing & Home Weaving – A Study from 1700 to 1750’.

– Fischer, Ernst, Linvävarämbetet i Malmö och det skånska linneväveriet, Malmö 1959.
– Hansen, Viveka, ‘Fyra sekel Malmö textil – 1650 till 2000’, Elbogen pp. 23-91, 1999. (pp. 42-45. A large number of primary and secondary sources were studied for this article. For full Bibliography etc; please see the Swedish article.).
– Högestads & Christinehofs Fideikommiss historiska arkiv, (Piper Family archive, D III 9, accounts etc, Baron Otto Mörner).
– Kunstindustrimuseet [Design Museum Denmark], København (visit at the exhibition “Fashion & Fabric” in 2015).

– Hansen, Viveka, ‘Merchants and Nobility – A Late 18th Century Textile Study’, TEXTILIS (February 6, 2018); https://textilis.net/ (Accessed: Day/Month/Year)