Mystery initials, mystery solved!

This was the original September 16, 2015 post:

All three examples of the blue rug designed by Ingrid Dessau discussed in my September 10th post, titled “Blue, Blue, Blue,” have the initials “MHF” or “NHF” in the lower left hand corner and “ID” in the lower right. Right there is the subject of the confusion. Given Dessau’s associations with several different craft associations (each called a”lans hemslojd” or craft association, for a particular city or area), we might expect to see the initials KLH (Kristianstad), BLH (Boras), JLH (Jönköping) or ÖLH (Östergötland).  But  MHF  or NHF is not a known hemslöjd, at least not to me. What are these letters?  They should represent a craft weaving cooperative or manufacturer.

Crop MHF

At first glance, these letters look like MMF. It is tempting to think that Dessau designed this rug and that it was woven at the MMF atelier. But we can probably rule that out. Sometimes the letters are not clear, but here, there is a clear difference between the M and the H. And all three blue rugs have these same initials.

It is also unlikely that the letters would be MMF rather than AB MMF, since the Märta Mååas Fjetterström studio was incorporated after Märta herself died in 1941.  In 1941 Ingrid Dessau, the designer, was a student at Konstfack, where she was until her 1945 graduation. While this piece could have been produced during the studio’s reorganization under the new leadership of Barbro Nilsson, who had been Ingrid’s teacher at Konstfack, it probably was not. At that point attention was not to new designers but to preserving the legacy of MMF herself. (January 2016 update:The MMF studio says that Dessau never designed for them.)

What do we know about this design and its possible date?

We know that Dessau left school in 1945 and worked for 4 years at the Kristianstad Låns Hemslöjd on Sweden’s south west coast. She left there to marry a Dane, Kai Dessau, and move in 1950 to the United States for several years. From her years working at the KLH, there are a number of versions of rugs with designs similar to this one, though perhaps not as subtle and sophisticated in their patterning. One is green and one is brown and blue. The green has the initials KLH in the lower left, and ID in the lower right corners; in the other rug the ID is to the left and KLH to the right. These rugs were shown in my last post. So perhaps we can assume that these were preliminary to the three blue rugs already discussed, or concurrent with them—that is, sometime between 1945-49. But if these blue checkered rugs were not woven at Kristianstad, perhaps they were woven later, after Dessau returned from the US in 1953.

But what MHF- or NHF-  means is still an unresolved question. So who wove the rug to Dessau’s design? If you know, tell us!  When I get an answer– you’ll hear about it.

4/11/16  Update: I got it!  Here’s the answer:  MHF represents Malmöhus läns Hemslöjdförening.  The “förening” part means “association” and in signature initials for these organizations, it is usually just implied and left off.  In the case of Malmö, it apparently was not.  I don’t know if Malmö always used MHF rather than MLH or used both forms of identification.  But for cross reference, here is another Ingrid Dessau Rug, here given a date of the 1960s, produced by Malmöhus läns Hemslöjd, being sold at the Stockholm Auktionsverk auction 4/19/16:

MHF ID 252 x182 Stockh A sale 4.19.16
INGRID DESSAU, a flatweave carpet for Malmöhus läns Hemslöjdförening, Sweden 1960’s, signed MHF ID, 252 x 182 cm.

So there we have it: mystery solved!  All of these “MHF”-identifed flat-weave rugs  represent collaborations between Ingrid Dessau and Malmöhus läns Hemslöjd, even after she had started designing for Kasthall, an industrial carpet producer, in 1954.  Thanks to the research staff at Stockholms Auktionsverk for providing the answer to this question in their identification of this rug.

10/11/17 update:  A catalog from the 1962 Hemslöjd exhibition at Liljevalchs 24 Aug-7 Okt has a black and white photograph of the blue rug shown in my first post on this subject, titled “Blue, Blue Blue,” although the designer is unidentified anywhere in either the photograph or the catalog.  This would date Dessau’s collaboration with Malmö läns hemslöjd to this period, and give us a date for the design of these rugs, of which several versions were clearly made.

Cover of 1962 Liljevalchs catalog in which Dessau’s rug is shown as photo #19.
Catalog image (plate 19) of Ingrid Dessau rug. This is described (in English)as “Modern rug in rölakan technique designed in several shades of blue with natural-black and white.”



Gustafson-Seife, Inger, Ingrid Dessau Textil Designer, Boras Textile Museum, 2008.

Hemslöjd 1962, catalog of exhibition at Liljevalchs Konsthall 24 Augusti – 7 Oktober 1962, published by Svenska Hemslöjdsföreningarnas Riksförbund.

Nazmiyal Carpets, New York object # 46898.

Sotheby’s Auction house, New York. Catalog for auction November 17, 2011.

Stockholms Auktionsverk online catalog for auction 4/19/16, object #268.

Wright Auction house, Chicago. Catalog for auction November 17, 2011, object #230.

addendum: email conversation with MMF atelier Jan, 2016

Please Reference as follows:

Whidden, Anne, “Mystery Initials; Mystery Solved!,” theswedishrugblog (September 16, 2015);http://; accessed (month/day/year)

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