Congratulatory address to Gösta Serlachius, 1916

Gösta Serlachius celebrated his 40th anniversary on the 26 of April in 1916. The Serlachius Museums’ collection entails a congratulatory address designated to him hundred years ago.

”Our honoured Director Gösta Serlachius

Today, on Your 40th anniversary, also the supervisors of G. A. Serlachius Aktiebolag honourably wish to join so many others, who mark Your anniversary in a special way. Through this address we wish to extend our warmest congratulations on this day. We have even a greater reason to do so, as You have always presented yourself in a direct manner and applied with indivisible right in all your actions, thus earning our fullest respect.

It is therefore our sincere wish that you should enjoy physical and mental strength for a long time yet and operate with the same passion and devotion in Your great calling for the national industry and workers. Consequently, we would further more have the pleasure of playing our small part in our joint effort under Your lead. Long live Gösta Serlachius! In Mänttä 26 April 1916.”

Twenty-two supervisors representing different departments of the company had signed the festive address. From today’s perspective, the congratulation text seems rather florid, and in its tone downright subservient. A hundred years ago, however, this kind of approach was, at least in written address, quite common – particularly when the greeting was represented by patriarchal society’s member who was hierarchically inferior to mill manager. The greeting has been written in Finnish language. At that time, like decades later also, the senior management of the mill was Swedish-speaking but the workers mainly Finnish-speaking.

The address has been hand-painted on a sketch made with a pencil. Its first page has decorative ornaments with blue, green and gold tones. The colour pigments do change over time so we cannot see the colours in their original brightness anymore. As the symbol of paper industry, the vegetable ornamentation has been combined with a gearwheel and a paper sheet with gold-colour letters G. A. S.

A bird with a robust beak is sitting on the paper sheet, probably as a reference to the eagle of the G. A. Serlachius Ltd. The initial, the first letter of the text is inside its own red frame and six lines high. A bowl full of flowers and leaves stands in the lower left corner of the page. Over the bowl a heart is rising up. In addition, letters G and S have been written beside the feet of the bowl. The area underneath it reminds one of a folded cloth on which the number 40 stands. On the right upper corner there is a mark CV of the author who has now become unknown.

The brown leather cover of the address has a ribbon decoration containing gold-colour lilies that frames the paper sheets. Its fold contains a silk ribbon with tassels. The greeting consists of the same elements than corresponding examples of mass production nowadays. Unique hand-painted addresses were quite common festive greetings in the early 20th century at least among the so-called high-class people.

Milla Sinivuori-Hakanen

Congratulatory address to Gösta Serlachius, 1916, Gösta Serlachius Fine Arts Foundation
Congratulatory address to Gösta Serlachius, 1916, Gösta Serlachius Fine Arts Foundation