A year ago, Kerstin and I had just built our website and made a project plan for Augusta’s Journey. We had no idea what a cool year we were going to have!
We started by independently doing research and making 1850s outfits. In March we made short trips to visit Augusta’s surroundings and long overdue trips to visit relatives. With summer dresses and bonnets finished, we embarked on our first leg of Augusta’s Journey: a 4-day cruise on Göta Canal.
It was the most memorable journey!
New friends and followers invited us to other events like the Great Crinoline Day in Linköping and a book release party in Stockholm. But as we were planning our German trip in October, we couldn’t just use our summer dresses. We needed to start making wool dresses and silk ball gowns. And we needed to figure out how we were going to travel around in Germany. That took the best part of August and September.
In October, we finally took off for Germany – to follow Augusta’s travels with her diary as a guide book. And that was amazing! To go to the same museums, cathedrals, and national parks and discover what she described in 1847. During this trip we made so many new friends, some of which are include in our Happy New Year card.
Once home again, and with the days getting shorter, we decided to visit other outdoor museums and parks that Augusta wrote about. We spent a memorable evening at Torekällberget in Södertälje, with a single kerosene lamp lighting the room. At Skansen’s Christmas Market, we learned about the Christmas food that was served in the 1800s.
And at our walk around Djurgården, a large park in Stockholm where Augusta also strolled with friends, we ran into Maj Wechselmann, a Swedish film maker who wondered if there were more people like us – that is, others who make their own historical clothes. She is filming a documentary in Augusta’s home town of Norrköping on New Year’s Eve and needed extras with outfits suitable for New Year’s Eve, 1899. Augusta’s daughter Gerda would have been 45 years old at that time, and our outfits for 1850 would be all wrong. So Kerstin jumped on the opportunity to make new outfits for herself and her husband Leif. Tonight, they and some of our Facebook friends will celebrate the New Year in a film production. A fitting finale of Augusta’s Journey 2017.
What are our plans for 2018? Both of us are starting to write about our journey. We hope to publish one book each. And while working on that, we will continue blogging about our discoveries and posting pictures
We have never been to Lübeck. Nevertheless, each day, we walk the streets of Lübeck, but in the world described by Thomas Mann in his book about the family Buddenbrooks. It is a fascinating book about 4 generations of a bourgeoisie family in the old town of Lübeck in the 1800s. Augusta’s world, but in Germany!
Augusta started her journey in Lübeck in July of 1847 and, therefore, that is where we will also start our journey through Germany.
Augusta brother-in-law, Gustaf Lejdenfrost, was a textile manufacturer and later a wool importer with business connections in Lübeck. The business contact was A.P. Rehder, whose family took care of Augusta and her mother on their arrival.
The Rehders lived at Alfstrasse 72 (in today’s numbering, Alfstrasse 41). When looking up the address in Google Maps, a familiar name showed up on a parallel street, Mengstrasse: Weinhandel Tesdorpf. One of Augusta’s best friend at home in Norrköping was Mina (Vilhelmina) Tesdorpf, whose father was the wine merchant in town! This could not be a coincident.
A genealogy search revealed that Mina was indeed related to the Tesdorpf family with the wine shop on Mengstrasse. Mina’s grandfather was Peter Hinrich Tesdorpf (1746-1811), who in 1782 married Susanne Schyler in Bordeaux. Mina’s father, Johan Jakob Tesdorpf (b. 1799), was the youngest of 8 children. He moved to Sweden and established himself in Norrköping as a wine retailer. He became very successful and his house in Norrköping is still standing.
Besides Johan Jacob Tesdorpf, his nephew, Franz Hinrich Tesdorpf, was also a wine merchant in Norrköping.
Did Augusta visit the Tesdorpf’s in Lübeck? She doesn’t mention them in her diary. But we will sure visit Weinhandel Tesdorpf on our trip and try some of their famous Rotspon.
Jane Austen died 200 years ago and her legacy is celebrated this year with exhibitions and events. Kerstin and I visited Skokloster Castle last week. Their exhibition, Jane Austen’s World, featured costumes worn in Austen’s movies, including the famous soaked shirt worn by Mr Darcy in Pride and Prejudice. A theme in the exhibition was marriage as a guarantor of family survival. Girls’ education focused on studies that would secure a future husband.
Our Augusta was fortunate in that she had a wealthy benefactor – her brother-in-law, Gustaf Lejdenfrost. She was not eager to get married, and when she did fall in love with her future husband, Lejdenfrost was also not in favor of her getting married. He would make sure that she could live comfortably without having to get married.
In the spirit of the Jane Austen celebration, I decided to re-read Mansfield Park. The following quote made me smile because it was so timely:
”Fanny, William must not forget my shawl, if he goes to the East Indies; and I shall give him a commission for anything else that is worth having. I wish he may go to the East Indies, that I may have my shawl. I think I will have two shawls, Fanny.”
For the last couple of days, Kashmir shawls have been on my mind. I guess, having a relative travelling to the East Indies would have been the way you would get one. If you were not fortunate to get a real Kashmir shawl, you might be able to get a locally produced copy.
I wrote about my hunt for Paisley shawls in May; then 3 weeks ago, my travels took me to Edinburgh. The first day, we did some sightseeing and visited charity and antique shops. It was there, in a back room, on top of a pile of other textiles that I spotted the now so familiar paisley pattern. I started pulling in the pile and realized that it was an antique shawl – with a few holes and matted fringes. What would you expect with a, maybe, 180-year-old shawl? The shop keeper and I agreed on a price and she stuffed the shawl into a plastic bag for me.
It wasn’t until we got home that I realized the size and beauty of this shawl. And it wasn’t until I got back to DC, and spent an afternoon in the textile library at The George Washington University that I realized that my shawl seems quite unique among published pictures of Kashmir and Paisley shawls. Since then I have spent many hours scrolling through online images of genuine Kashmir shawls and those made in France and the UK during the 1800s. I have also been reading all I can find about the shawl industry in Edinburgh and Paisley. I am no closer to assessing where and when the shawl was made. There is one tell-tales though: as I can discern, the warp is silk, which points to a European made shawl.
So here is the beauty, annotated with name of the parts of a Kashmir shawl:
The shawl is 306 cm long. The width at one end is 154 cm and at the other, 157 cm. The warp is silk and the weft is wool. According to historical records from Paisley, there was also a fine lace cotton thread used in the ground color weft for added strength – called a “sma’ shot”.
The silk warp is dyed in 3 different colors: gold, light red, and light yellow. Besides the ground color (cream), there are 4 colors used in the weft: crimson, light red, olive, and a very light turquoise.
The shawl is woven in 3:1 twill which can be seen in the fringe gate.
This is typical of European shawls; genuine Kashmir shawls are woven in 2:2 twill. The back side is typical of the European shawls in that the loose wefts were clipped and removed after the shawl was taken off the loom. This reduced the weight of the final shawl.
The typical “harlequin fringe gates”, those colorful squares at the end of the shawl, are 2 cm high. When harlequin gates first appeared on shawls in the 1820s, this is how high they were. They then became larger – having doubled in height by 1845 – and they were more ornate.
The field is quite large and cream (pale) colored. The pallu is also quite large with 8 tall, intricate butas (paisley shapes). What is so beautiful with this shawl are the stylistic flowers and fronds that stretch into the plain, cream-colored field. According to Rehman and Jafri, this motif started to appear on European shawls in the 1830s.
I would love to find out more about this shawl – nailing down the time period and the manufacturing site. Was is made on a draw-loom or on a Jacquard loom? And should I mend the holes?
While reading about the shawl manufacturing in Paisley, I realized the similarities with Norrköping and the life of Augusta. Both Paisley and Norrköping were textile towns that flourished in the 1800s. Paisley had long been a center for linen and wool textiles – and even silk manufacturing. In the 1820s, the Paisley shawl manufacturing was taking off. Unfortunately, shawl manufacturing was just about the only industry in Paisley and, when fashion changed and demand declined, there was no alternative work for those employed in the industry. By 1880, the manufacturing of Paisley shawls had come to an end.
Augusta lived a privileged life in Norrköping because of the wool mills and the textile industry. Her brother in law and benefactor owned a wool mill as did her cousin’s husband. So, did fashion in Norrköping at this time also dictate large wool shawls? And if so, were they aware of the European fashion of Kashmir shawls? Or did they buy locally produced shawls?
Of course, today we usually don’t get letters – we get emails and text messages. But this could have been a letter – and it was so significant.
Kerstin and I received an email from a 5th degree cousin who had stumbled upon our blog. That is, our respective grandparents’ grandparents’ fathers were brothers – Augusta’s father (Johan Peter Söderholm) and Carl Adam Söderholm.
Our cousin belongs to the family Schubert whose members are frequently mentioned in Augusta’s diary. The Schubert family lived in Norrköping and also had a country home, Fullerstad, close to Söderköping. Kerstin and I visited those places earlier this spring and wrote about two of the sisters Schubert, Mina Schubert and Hanna Schubert.
What is so significant is that we have, in parallel, been researching our families’ lives! I am sure we all have unanswered questions about our families.
One question I have been trying to answer is how Augusta’s sister Amalia met her husband Gustaf Leidenfrost (several different spellings of his last name exists. )
Fredrik Gustaf Leidenfrost was born on Christmas Eve, 1798, in Vimmerby. His parents were Christian Friedrich Leidenfrost (1748-1823), an apothecary, and Birgitta Maria von Sydow (1768-1810); he was one of their 7 children.
From his birth until he marries Augusta’s sister Amalia in 1832, at age 34, we don’t know much about his life. We know that when they got married, he was one of the successful textile-mill owners in Norrköping and that he had bought the estate, Loddby.
An interesting coincidence is that on the Schubert side of the family, Augusta’s close cousin, Carolina, also had married one of the leading textile-mill owner in Norrköping – Johan Jacob Schubert – in 1824.
Norrköping must have been a very small, although increasingly important town in the mid-1800s, with textile-mill owners even being connected by family ties.
Maybe we will find out more about the connections between our two families over coffee with our new-found cousin tomorrow!
Two weeks ago, Kerstin and I visited the city museum in Norrköping. One special exhibition just happened to feature historical buildings threatened to be demolished. And when we walked in, we happened upon a seminar about conserving Sweden’s cultural heritage. Both the exhibition and the talk included Krusenhof, the estate where Augusta’s best friends and neighbors had lived.
Sadly, the Krusenhof mansion, orangery, pavilion, and several other buildings on the property are listed as threatened (Swedish: hotad) to be demolished. However, these buildings only date from the turn of the century and had already replaced the buildings that were present during Augusta’s time. So, what could we still see that was there during Augusta’s time? Trees? Would there still be an orchard?
The next morning, we set off to visit Krusenhof. We tried to envision arriving in a carriage under the tall poplars that Augusta had described as nodding a welcome to the visitor. And yes, there were tall poplars shading a carpet of blue Scilla.
We took a walk down some overgrown terraces to what would have been a lawn. And there stood a single, very old tree. From the dry leaves on the ground, we guessed that it was a linden tree.
On the other side of the lawn was a beautiful little forest with some blue and purple anemones and violets. There was also an ancient, giant oak tree.
And then we came upon the forgotten orchard. The trees were untrimmed and covered with lichens, but the branches had plenty of little leaf buds. We took a little branch with a bud and 2 weeks later it was blooming – a memory of Krusenhof!