Step 3 of 9

Lieber Papa

Letters and fabric - Erfgoed Leiden en Omstreken

Letters and fabric - Erfgoed Leiden en Omstreken

From the start of 1878 till the end of 1879, Felix visited several countries in South-East Asia. Everything is recorded in the bundle of letters that he sent home. His letters are written in German, sometimes partly in Dutch, and they always start with ‘Lieber Papa’.

Attached to the letters, Felix also sent home real batiks to study and copy. Not only snippets, but entire cloths as well. He writes about his visits to batik workshops, where he tries to gather as much knowledge as possible about the production process.

He sent home information about the faux-batiks that the European competition made. 'There is fakery coming from two sides,’ Felix wrote from Semarang in 1879. With this, he attached two samples of competitors from Holland and Switzerland. He also saw that even their knock-offs were being knocked off! One, he writes, is pretty good, the other, “disgusting & terrible”.

He also returned imitation batiks from their own factory. Traders at Java sometimes paint over their cloths to turn them into handmade batiks. Those sold much better. His brother Carl wrote the following about this when he was on Batavia on November 30th, 1892:

We also paid a visit to Lim Tjang Hoey, the Chinese Batik factory that buys our blue batik products to batik over them. He complained strongly of the bad print of our cloths and slendangs, rendering many cloths worthless, because the Malay buying these articles immediately recognizes them as batik belanda.