As I iron my thoughts wander, all around the world. I think about how my linens have traveled, and I wonder where the next ones will go.
My linens been many more places than I have!
I got his flat-out gorgeous set from a woman whose grandfather was a linen importer. So the placemats and napkins made the trip to the U.S. from another country, I can’t guess where, but now they grace a table in Australia.
It never occurred to me, when I started selling vintage linens, that I’d be sending these lovely things around the world, to Japan, to New Zealand, to Italy, to South Korea. Not only are they valued in many lands, they are valued so much that people are willing to pay the often exorbitant shipping costs.
I ask myself why? Why would international buyers want these items?
Maybe it’s because some of the countries are young-ish, like Australia and New Zealand, and have less homegrown vintage than we do.
Maybe it’s because American culture and design, at least from certain periods, has a vibe that folks in other cultures value.
I can make some generalizations—Australians go for understated elegance. Usually all white, high-quality, and expensive linens that bespeak an old-world charm.
Many Asian buyers like the funkier look of American mid-century.
I have my ethnocentric moments, when I think, “Oh, but this belongs here. I don’t want it to go to another land, far from its home.” And then I remind myself that valued items have been traded across the world from time immemorial. If we could have a Silk Road, why not a Linens Road?
And I remind myself that the really important thing is that these pretty things be loved and valued and used, wherever they find a home.
Goodbye linens! Safe travels! Fare thee well.