Thursday, February 18, 2010

Vintage Thingies Thursday: Finnish Tampella "Valmu" Linen Napkins by Dora Jung

I picked up this rather unassuming bag of vintage linen napkins at the estate sale where I found the other vintage linens a couple of weeks ago:

I took them out of the bag, and found the most gorgeous and amazing set of golden flax-colored napkins.  My photographs do not do them justice:

They were never used and are in absolute mint condition.  I could not help but take them home, and that was before I knew anything about the designer.  I knew that they were napkins ("servetter" is similar to the French "serviette") but I could not fully translate the Finnish label with Google's language tools.  So I turned to my bloggy friend Ulla for help (by the way, she showcases some fabulous stuff for Vintage Thingies Thursday). She kindly translated the label for me, and pointed me in the right direction regarding the designer and manufacturer.

The design is of a poppy before the flower blooms, and Ulla shared that the napkins are called "Valmu" after an antiquated Finnish word for poppy, and also after the Swedish word for poppy, "vallmo." There are over a hundred different species of poppies, and I wish I knew exactly which one that is featured in this pattern. Those pictured are lovely nonetheless. 

Valmu was designed by Dora Jung, a famous and important Finnish textile designer who worked for the manufacturer Tampella from 1936-1941 and from 1956 to 1972.  This lovely set was made between 1970-1973.  She designed textiles for home use, but also designed and weaved linens for churches and made artistic displays for public works projects.  You can see more examples of her textile design work here, including the pink version of Valmu and an incredibly wonderful peacock napkin that she designed a little earlier.

Ulla assures me that no tablecloth was designed to match this set of napkins, and if there had been, I would surely want one. I also love her "100 Roses" tablecloth and napkin set, as many of the items I collect feature tea roses:

This black and white photo is the only photo I could find;
this tablecloth is probably a pale blue.

However, I have the sneaking suspicion that her tablecloths are fairly rare and are probably out of my reach. The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston recently acquired three of her tablecloths. Of course, her large commissioned tapestries fetch thousands of dollars.  Several were sold by Christie's a few years ago.

I hope you enjoyed this edition of Vintage Thingies Thursday.  All in all, this was truly a fortunate find!  Readers, I'd love to hear what you think about Dora Jung's work!

100 Roses and Dora Jung photos courtesy of Finnishdesign.fl.


  1. What a fantastic find! Those are beautiful.

  2. These are beautiful, I can imagine the color a brilliant butter color. Great find. Happy VTT!

  3. I just read your comment you left....don't feel bad...I feel bad because I am trying to leave comments at this late of an hour. I have changed my work hours, from nights to days and have not gotten a routine down....I worked nights for 13 years and had nothing to do in the day when I woke up but get on the schedule is really grinding on my nerves...I like the hours but hate the "ME" time I have lost...I have been so frustrated today, I have considered giving up this meme all together...but feel so bad about it...hope everyone will just give me a bit to get my "act" together so I am not taking 3 hours on Thurs. night trying to leave comments...uhhhh if only I did not have to work! If you can bear with me....I have no problem when you post!!!! Have a great Day!

  4. Very cool. I love vintage linens. Yours are beautiful.

  5. Your napkins are beautiful. What a great find for you.

  6. beautiful linens: love the poppy design!

  7. Great post about your beautiful linens! The 100 Roses was made in several pastel colours and white.

  8. I love the 100 roses tablecloth. So pretty! Your napkins are an amazing find. Good for you!

  9. I loved your beautiful linens..they're just gorgeous..

  10. Lovely linens. Glad to hear from another crochet addict. I'm afraid you'll have to pry my dead cold fingers away from my crochet book:) I can't bear to part with even a magazine that has patterns in it! But I am not a hoarder!!

  11. I love vintage linens and these are fabulous. Such a great find!

  12. Great history, thanks for sharing with us!

  13. I enjoyed stopping by your cute blog & seeing all the nifty vintage stuff. Awesome!

    Warmly, Michelle


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