Norwegian 101: Hangers (Kleshengere)

Photo: Heidi Håvan Grosch
A few hangers from the author’s collection.

Heidi Håvan Grosch
Sparbu, Norway

It is normal (det er normalt), although some of us don’t do it all the time (ikke gjør det hele tiden), to hang up our clothes (å henge opp klærne våre) on hangers (kleshengere). Lately (i det siste) I have become fascinated (har jeg blitt fascinert) by wooden hangers (trehengere); how they are made (hvordan de er laget) and how they have been used (hvordan de har blitt brukt) for advertising (som reklame). Since plastic hangers (plast­hengere) have become more popular (blitt mer populære), you can often find (ofte finne) wooden ones in used stores or in the back of somebody’s closet (bak i noens skap). I was also fascinated by (jeg ble også fascinert av) the way these hangers were put together (ble satt sammen). One had dovetailing (svalehale), one joined the two parts at an angle (i en vinkel), one joined down the middle (i midten), and one was made in what appeared to be a solid piece (et helt stykke). I guess art comes in all forms (kunst kommer i alle former).

According to (ifølge) the website www.bighangers.com, hangers developed (utviklet) because there weren’t enough hooks (fordi det var ikke nok kroker) for all the employee’s coats (alle ansattes frakker) at the Timberlake Wire and Novelty Company in Jackson, Mississippi. Albert Parkhouse searched the company inventory (selskapets inventar), found some wire (ståltråd), and made the first hanger. Talk about innovation (snakk om innovasjon)! There is also speculation that Thomas Jefferson, known for his many inventions (kjent for sine mange oppfinnelser) as well as his politics, invented the wooden clothes hanger for his Monticello home.

In an article (i en artikkel) in the New York Times (see link below / se lenken nedenfor) Robert Hoskins, a professor of display and exhibit at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan, talks about hanger history. He speculates that the tree and the bush (treet og busken) preceded the hanger as a means of clothing organization (klærorganisasjon), and that hangers of a sort didn’t appear until the Middle Ages (middelalderen).

Photo: Heidi Håvan Grosch
Why not put some advertising on a hanger?

It makes sense (det er logisk), then, as people started having multiple changes of clothes (flere endringer av klær) in the 1700s (på 1700-tallet) instead of (i stedet for) wearing (å ha på seg) what they had until it fell off of them, that people also needed (også trengte) a means to hang up (å henge opp) those clothes. It also goes without saying (det sier selvsagt), that if people were buying more clothes (kjøpte mer klær), stores wanted ways to advertise (annonserer) their own wares (sine egen varer) or just send a message to their customers (til sine kunder). Hoskins mentioned two examples (to eksempler) from the exhibit; a wooden hanger advertising White Horse whisky, “equal to a fine liqueur” (“lik en fin likør”), and a hanger that said “Clothing for the People” (“Klær for folket”).

In my little collection (min lille kolleksjon), I found (fant jeg) a few hangers with advertising from local Norwegian businesses (fra lokale norske bedrifter). One advertised KAIN, Munkegt. 31, Trondheim with the words Guttekonfeksjon (boy’s clothes) on one arm, and Herreekvipering (all the proper clothes a man needs) on the other. Today there are still retail stores (i dag er det fortsatt butikker) at that address. Another hanger advertised Alfred Finstad Eftf. Manufakturforretning, Steinkjær (written today as Steinkjer). A little digging (litt graving) (www.steinkjerleksikonet.no/index.php?artikkel=2099) and I found that Alfred was born (ble født) in 1889, managing Steinkjer Manufakturforretning from 1921 to 1925 before taking it over. If you can read Norwegian, there is an article on him in the Steinkjer Avisa (steinkjer-avisa.no/2016/05/20/mannen-med-malbandet).

If curious, the “Eftf” following his name means efterfølger, or someone who took over the name preceding the letters. All the writing on this hanger is an older version of Norwegian used around WWII, a good reminder that language is always changing (språk alltid endrer seg).

Interested in more about hangers? (Interessert i mer om kleshengere?) Read this article from the New York Times about a hanger exhibition from the 90s and a man’s collection: www.nytimes.com/1991/01/24/garden/hangers-that-hold-history-not-clothes.html.

This article originally appeared in the Aug. 25, 2017, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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