Thoughts on White Linen Damask

I have been reading White Figurated Linen Damask, from the 15th to the beginning of the 19th century, by Dr. G.T. van Ysselsteyn, published in Den Haag, 1962.

Dr. van Ysselsteyn commented that it was the expectation that, in 10 year’s time (then being the 1960s), figured damask will have disappeared even from the inherited trousseaus. This is due to: items being lost or destroyed during the wars, worn pieces being used as rags and polishing cloths and large houses haven given way to smaller ones, which have no room for the large formal dinner parties that require formal state linens. Cocktail parties do not require such large tables and quantities of enormous napkins. Styles also changed and the English and American use of placemats on bare tables became more popular everywhere.

The Author also stated that “damask requires special cleaning. It has to be cleaned with soft soap in a brass casserole, laid out on grass to be bleached and has to be pressed cold between rolls. This can still be done in the Netherlands but it is expensive and is therefore not suitable for everyday use.”

The introduction goes on to say that these linens “… are relatively cheap. Collections are rare. The material is not spectacular, photographs give a better impression than the object itself. Only those with a sound knowledge of the fabric and, with love for the hand-labor of their ancestors, want to collect the antique material.” Well said!

So, if you love and appreciate white linen damask, you are a member of a small club, indeed.

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4 Responses to “Thoughts on White Linen Damask”

  1. Betsy Hopkins Says:

    I am interested inlearnign more about figurated damask as I am searching fro a replacement for my grandmother’s “pilgrim” tablecloth, a family treasure that was damaged in the wash. I wonder who made these beautiful 1940 (ish) tablecloths and if there are any in circulation.

  2. Betsy Hopkins Says:

    I am interested in learning more about figurated damask as I am searching fro a replacement for my grandmother’s “pilgrim” tablecloth, a family treasure that was damaged in the wash. I wonder who made these beautiful 1940 (ish) tablecloths and if there are any in circulation.

  3. linenmaven Says:

    Dear Betsy,
    I have not ever seen one with a pilgrim design in the 12 years that I have been in business. I have had lots of requests for specific figural damask cloths… with operas, fairy tales, etc. But, of course, when one is dealing with “used goods,” one can only hope that an interesting one will put in an appearance!

  4. Jeff Linder Says:

    Dear LinenMaven,

    My mother donated a 19th century figurated damask tablecloth to her church. It’s monogrammed with her great grandfather’s initials and shows the story of Christ.

    Who could we send photos to for learning the approximate value of this fine piece of history?

    Her email address is jp7150@aol.com – Pat Linder

    Thanks

    Jeff Linder

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