Contact Details ▼

Objectspace is now closed for redevelopment

Objectspace temporary offices
Ground Floor 34-38 Drake St
Auckland Central
Auckland | New Zealand

Open Mon to Fri 10am-4pm
P +64 9 376 6216

info@objectspace.org.nz
Join in via Twitter | Facebook
Menu ▼

Vault

  • Installation image

    Courtesy Vicki Mossong Collection
  • Installation image

    Courtesy Vicki Mossong Collection
  • Installation image

    Courtesy Vicki Mossong Collection
  • Installation image

    Courtesy Vicki Mossong Collection
  • Installation image

    Courtesy Vicki Mossong Collection
  • Installation image

    Courtesy Vicki Mossong Collection

The Lives of Linen

17 March 2012 - 09 May 2012

An early twentieth century guide regarding household linen advises Every housekeeper delights in a goodly supply of household linen....it is a true economy to buy an adequate supply of linen at one time, for by this method every article will last much longer....An ordinary outfit that will give good satisfaction is one dozen table cloths, six dozen napkins...several tea cloths and sufficient centrepieces, sideboard covers, scarves, doilies...to give sufficient change when some items are in the laundry. 

For over 500 years the trousseau of a bride included bedding and household linen as much as it did wardrobe items. The trousseau was the foundation of a household's lifetime linen supply. By the nineteenth century, ‘the great linen century', bourgeois families were able to assemble stores of linen on a scale that had been the preserve of aristocrats. The prosperity of the age allied with the symbolic importance of linen - virginal in its whiteness, virtuous in terms of labour and skill and excellent in its quality and quantity - saw the establishment of benevolent funds that assisted poorer women to assemble trousseau. Well into the twentieth century prospective brides assembled their own chests of linen in preparation for marriage. Once purchased, items were frequently personalised with monograms and embroidery by either their owner or an employed professional. Often identical items would be embroidered with sequential numbers to enable rotated usage and extend their lifespan. 

It was in the making of linen for the table, that linen weavers demonstrated their greatest skills. Damask cloths, where the pattern is woven into fabric became finer with the invention of the Jacquard Loom. Newer looms meant that large table cloths, and sheets, need no longer to be made of joined linen lengths. For most of the nineteenth century white table linen prevailed for the most formal occasions however the grandest of table linen producers, Porthault, espoused colour in the twentieth century.

Collector Vicki Mossong, who has a professional background in various areas of design, began her involvement with table linen as a collector and trader more or less by accident. Both she and her mother had some surplus household linen so they took a stall rather than consign it to the local op shop knowing if they did that it would very likely end up being destroyed and turned into rag. They had a great time and they found that there was a strong interest in what many might consider obsolete items, thus began a career "saving the lives of linen." Although most stock is bought locally Mossong travels internationally seeking items for herself, her special collectors and for her business. Some of the collecting interests of her collectors that focus her scouting include; marine and naval themed linen, specific patterns such as willow pattern themed decoration, needle worked items, bridge table cloths, New Zealand tea towels and handkerchiefs.