20th-Century Marta Maas Fjetterstrom Textile

Value (2004) | $2,000 Retail$4,000 Retail

It's a piece I found at a thrift store in Minnesota. One of the things I always go for are linens, needlework of any kind, because it interests me, and I like just to, you know, kind of study it and appreciate it. I have a lot of appreciation for women who have done needlework, and a lot of times, it just gets discarded. And this kind of stuck out at me-- the colors and the pattern in it-- and I really became very curious to know what it was all about.

Okay, because I'll be honest with you, when I first saw this I was thinking, "Well, we're in Minnesota, of course I'm going to see a lot of, kind of, 20th century, Scandinavian-inspired textiles," which, generally, in the market today are of very little interest because they were things that were either made in this country or were commercially-made in Scandinavia. And then as I looked more closely, I realized, "But, wait, this isn't just another one. This is something more going on." There's an incredible subtlety to the coloration and the way this is woven and put together. We've got shading of different colors of roses to fuchsia, and then blue-greens to blue. And there's an artistry in this that you wouldn't just see in a common piece. So I was thinking, "Gosh, this really is better than most" and got intrigued myself. And then, in looking at it while we were talking, I recognized that in the corner it was signed, which most commercial pieces aren't signed. And this is signed with the initials "MMF," which stands for a woman named Marta Maas Fjetterstrom, who was probably the leading textile designer and producer in Sweden in the early 20th century.

Oh, no.

She started out as a painter, got interested in textiles in the late teens-- 1915, 1916, 1917-- started a workshop by 1918, 1919, producing textiles, curtain fabrics-- all handmade-- also rugs and carpet. I mean, she was of such prominence that she designed and manufactured the rugs that are used for the Nobel Prize ceremonies in Stockholm. So she's really a designer of some note. Typically in the market, we come across pieces of hers that are quite large. As I said, often big, room-size carpets made by her in her workshop, yards of fabric hand-woven for draperies... some upholstery fabrics. And I have to be honest with you, I've never seen a hand-woven, flat-weave textile of this size coming from her. And so it was an intriguing thing for me to see, and the quality backs up with the initials. Do you have any idea of what this may be worth?

Absolutely not. I knew it was worth the dollar that I paid for it, just to have something, you know, to study because it was so interesting.

Right. Because I would say with the popularity of Marta Maas Fjetterstrom things on the market today-- because it's really coming on quite strong-- I would place a retail value on a piece like this today of somewhere between $2,000 and $4,000.


Certainly worth a dollar investment.

Oh, my goodness.

But I think you bought it more because you noticed it was something special.

Yes, yes. And it must be that I'm half Swedish, too.

Yeah? Well, that's good.

Oh, my.

Appraisal Details

Beauvais Carpets
New York, NY
Appraised value (2004)
$2,000 Retail$4,000 Retail
St Paul, MN (June 26, 2004)
20th Century

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