I am appalled to note that I haven't added any posts since September - somehow the Autumn months just disappeared with sales to attend, linens to sort and restore and plenty more besides.
Christmas Day 2015 was spent with close friends and hosted by a wonderful Australian couple. I had a panic phone call on Christmas Eve from Rosemary - the tablecloth she had planned to use was covered in brown spots and she didn't know what to do. For some reason she thought I might know!
She explained that it was quite an old cloth and one of a cupboardful that she and her husband acquired along with the house they bought a year or so ago. All was well and my rescue recipe for marked linens did the trick.
Arriving at their home I was brought straight to see the now pristine white damask cloth, and in passing Rosemary said "there is some interesting embroidery to one corner, perhaps you might like to have a look".
Interesting! That's for sure, this beautiful banqueting cloth had been embellished with the initials of the original owner, the figures 3/30 telling me that this was number 3 of a set of 30 banqueting cloths and then literally to top it all, a coronet with 7 balls or pearls as they were known.
Santa's offerings of earlier in the day paled into insignificance when compared to this fabulous piece! I have often seen pictures of the monograms of European nobility and royalty, but this was the first time I had seen one first hand.
I learned that the lady to whom the house had previously belonged was German by birth, so this was beginning to make more sense. As I had suspected, the 7 pearls on the coronet denote a Baron or Freiherr in Germany, a title dating from the days of the Holy Roman Empire and whilst no longer carrying any privileges, it is often still used as part of the family name.
Who knows if we will ever find out exactly who the Baron was, but in the meantime our wonderful Christmas meal took on a new dimension, knowing we were eating on a cloth used at some point in a baronial hall in Germany. Considering that so many of our Christmas traditions have been adopted from German customs it seemed most fitting.
Here are a few more photos for you to enjoy.
A fine trellis design decorated the body of the cloth, lozenges and roundels in regular bands, quite different to the elaborate scrolling patterns more favoured by Irish damask weavers.
The padded uprights to the W and A of this monogram are exquisitely stitched in a rembourré style, padded and full, whilst the flourishes and flowers are picked out in a pinkish red. Even the inventory mark of 3/30 is painstakingly stitched.
I have altered the exposure of this image to give a better rendition of the damask, always a challenge to capture successfully.