• 01_Rtk.32.13-11

Textile samples

artists unknown 1750-1800

These samples of imported textiles cast light on the diversity in needlework and crafts at the time. They indicate a rather more colourful and decorative selection of goods to beautify the home and clothing than one would think was available at the time. The samples on display here came from Danish merchants in Iceland on the latter half of the 18 th century. Homespun cloth was made in Iceland for everything people needed but various wools, linen and cotton were also imported. Danish merchants imported various textiles to Iceland during the merchant monopoly in the 17 th and 18 th centuries. Merchants would do business in about 22-25 ports around the country, build shops and their ships would become the nation's primary international means of transportation. These samples have been preserved because the magistrates were assigned to inspect the fabric's quality and pricing in every port in the country and send reports to the administration offices in Copenhagen. The most expensive wools were ten times more expensive than homespun cloth and mostly used in the best clothes.

The cheapest linen was on the other hand priced quite similarly to the homespun cloth or around five fishes for 1 ell of cloth. People could also order facings, chords, buttons and other specialties for tailoring and this was quite common during the 17 th and 18 th centuries. Once in a while someone would also order a wig and even leather boots. This was all imported to Iceland by the monopoly merchants. When the Innréttingar woollen workshops were formed around the mid-18 th century, many of the textiles that had previously been imported became manufactured domestically. Innréttingar manufactured felt wools in one colour, wool and linen in patterns, floral and striped, as well as flax thread for the production. The manufacturing of these important goods became domestic and the import of goods was subsequently reduced. The woollen workshops were in business until 1800.


ÞÍ. Rentukammer 1928-11 B-B01

National Archives of Iceland