Thursday, February 2, 2012

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 24

Little girl in Hardanger bunad, ca 1900s
[Mittet & Co. No 6]

Postcards reached the height of their popularity in the early 1900s when they were a preferred method of sending short messages with the added bonus of a picture. Publishing companies branched out and added postcards to their selections. The company that printed this card, Mittet & Company A/S of Oslo, Norway, was established in 1899 by Ingebrigt Mittet and developed by his two sons Knut and Søren Mittet. They published children’s books and other items but are best known as the most productive postcard publisher in Norway printing a wide variety of cards. The Norwegian National Archives have 265 negatives from this company most on glass plates. Themes for the cards range from the Norwegian royal family, churches, Oslo, Arkerhus fortress, parades on “Help the Children’s Day” in 1906 and others. The glass plates were the basis for the postcards from 1905 to 1930. For more information about Mittet & Co. please see the Norwegian archives site at

Since this card is of a child I did wonder if it might have been associated with the Help the Children’s Day. The postmark on the reverse of the card is not clear enough to read the date but there is a Roman numeral VI in the middle of the stamp.
Mrs. Gimlet was delighted to see the detail on this postcard but somewhat horrified to see this little girl with the Hardanger lace in her mouth! And in truth, the reason the card attracted me to it in the first place was the detail of the lace embroidery on the apron as much as the cute little girl. It takes hours and hours of the most painstakingly meticulous work to do this type of embroidery and cutwork. Here is an example of Mrs. Gimlet’s handwork for the baby gown she is currently making for her newest little niece or nephew expected in this month. Curly’s mother and Curly will make the dress itself using the pieces Mrs. Gimlet has embroidered. Then later, in September, Mrs. G hopes to enter the finished product in the needlework competition at the Puyallup Fair. This is an heirloom in the making!

The collar section of the blessing gown
[photo courtesy of Heather Laurence]

I thought I would share a couple of family stories from the Landaas family. This family lived in the Hardanger area of Norway. All the girls had the silver sølje pins and some of them had the local bunad as well. Two examples of the pins are shown below. The pin on the top is modern the small pin on the bottom is old, probably about 125 years old, and is handmade. Both pins are silver with the top pin all silver while the smaller pin has brass spoons. The measuring tape is there to provide an idea of the sizes. The smaller pin would typically have been used on a child’s costume. If you look closely at the postcard you will see that this little girl is wearing a rather large pin that is attached to the blouse but hangs down into the vest.


The Landaas family lived most of the year in the city of Bergen where the father, Peder Landaas, worked as a carpenter and woodcarver. I believe he also did some cabinetry work. Peder’s parents lived north of Bergen at a farm called Fiskeset. During the summer months the children and possibly their mother went up to the farm where they could help the grandparents. The two oldest Landaas girls, Mikkeline (Maggie) and Petra usually had the job of tending the sheep and goats up on the mountainside. Maggie loved the outdoors and the farm in general and thought it much better than living in the city. Petra on the other hand preferred living in the city and was not overly fond of going up to the farm. These girls were tiny. Even as an adult Petra never reached 5 feet in height and was quite slender when she was a girl. Taking care of the ewes, lambs, kids and nanny goats wasn’t too bad but there was at least one nasty ram that gave the girls quite a bit of trouble.

One of the stories Petra would tell was about the ram and how he would run at her and her sister and butt them hard enough to send them sprawling on the ground. He was a fearsome creature from her description with huge horns. One day he came at her and instead of walking away after tossing her down on the ground he kept coming back to ram her again and again. She did not know what to do to get away from him but she was on a steep hillside so she rolled up into a ball and went somersaulting down the mountain to escape.

Another memory she had of her summer stays at the farm was the year she had a very bad cold. It sounded almost more like pneumonia or the flu than a cold the way she told it. At any rate her nose was stuffed up for possibly weeks and finally her mother and grandmother had had enough of it and tarred the inside of her nose to get it to stop running and dripping. The cure was effective as far as the drippy nose went but it cost her the sense of smell. She said this happened in early summer and the last thing she recalled being able to smell was ripe strawberries growing on the mountainside. Ever after it was a big inside joke when she was asked what she would like as a gift she would smile and say perfume and then laugh.

Petra and Marjorie Lee with some chickens, ca 1920

I can never remember a time when my grandmother, Petra, was not dressed up so it is almost impossible to think of her on that farm in Norway. Here she is with my mother and some chickens and even then you will notice that she is wearing white shoes and jewelry!

1 comment:

  1. She is a cute girl. I enjoyed to reading this information.
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