Thursday, 17 February 2011

Leopold Iklé - A Passion for Pattern

Leopold Iklé was born in Hamburg in 1838. Aged 15 years old, he was travelling as a salesman for his family’s textile company, Iklé Frères, which specialized in machine-embroidered muslins and laces imported from St Gallen, Switzerland.
When he was 19, Leopold was granted residency in St Gallen, where he was later joined by his brother Adolf. At this time, the demand for machine-produced embroidery was in the ascendant, and in 1880 Iklé Frères entered the market, producing the first Schiffli embroidery in eastern Switzerland. In this business, new patterns were important, but having started to collect old textiles as a resource for the business, Leopold soon became passionate about the embroideries for themselves.
In 1904 he donated much of his collection to the Industrie und Gewerbe Museum in St Gallen—now the Textile Museum. The rest of the collection went to family members, and items appear at auction from time to time. The last auction of items deriving from the Iklé collection was at Christie's on 4 December 2007. You can't buy these items now - but you can still see the items on the internet - like an echo of something wonderful.
There is something for everyone, Vierlande samplers, silk knitted gloves...there are other non- Iklé textiles also including patchwork and some fabulous laces, court dresses and christening robes. Just click here to go back in time.


  1. Is the photo of the silk gloves reversed? The design in the center looks like an elaborate IHS (in hoc signo, a widely used Christian monogram.)

  2. Monique, you are right, I think the photographer has reversed the image and it is IHS or the Christogram which can be interpeted in a number of ways. In hoc signo is one, also Iesus Hominum Salvator.