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Skillingtryck, or Chapbook

We can now turn our attention to our upcoming exhibit on Nordic Fairy Tales since the Julgran fundraiser and Lucia are finished here at the Vasa National Archive. We are keeping watch for different Nordic fairy tale items to put on exhibit. One item that will be featured is a printed textile called Skillingtryck, or Chapbook.

Chapbooks tell various stories, history, fairy tales and myths in an abbreviated form. Typically, they take the form of a booklet or handbill. Chapbooks date to the 16th century when printing presses made it possible to create cheap little booklets available to the masses. While chapbooks can be found across Europe and America. London, with 500 licensed chapbook peddlers was the center of chapbook and ballad production until the Great Fire destroyed many printers based around London Bridge. Few chapbooks survived to the modern era because they were poorly made with cheap materials. They were often repurposed as wrapping papers, “bum fodder” and other uses when paper was expensive.

Our Skillingtryck features a creation of seven ballads and songs with accompanying pictures. Greta Nelson, Kronan #179 donated this piece in 1977 and Bertil Winstrom mounted it on a wooden frame. It was placed on exhibit for several years before being replaced with another piece. The songs featured on the Skillingtryck are: Kors på Idas Grav, Älvsborgsvisan, Hjalmar och Hulda, Lejonbruden, Elvira Madigan, Glordana vid Stranden siter hon kammar tankfull sitt Gyllne Hår, and Rosita och Greve Albert.

We are open by appointment until April. Contact us at or at 309-927-3898 if you have any questions about the collections or the Archives. For more current information on Bishop Hill or the Vasa National Archives, “like us” on Facebook.

In Truth and Unity,

Kathy Cuff, CA

Vasa Archivist

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