Friday, January 14, 2011

Vintage Handkerchiefs ~ The Whimsical and the Elegant

Handkerchiefs have been around for thousands of years, but the most common we find today are hankies from the first half of the twentieth century.

There are so many different kinds for every taste. Some people may collect just one theme or a favorite color, and many love to collect designer hankies. Some popular themes were maps of the fifty states, children and animals, political hankies, floral, fashion and hankies for the holidays. Some were sold in cards ready for gift giving, there were hankies with calendars and horoscopes, and many actually gave advice such as how to get a husband and how to speak French. A few popular designers from this era were Tammis Keefe, Carl Tait, Pat Prichard and Tom Lamb. Did you know that Tammis Keefe worked pseudonymously under the name Peg Thomas?

Beside fun and kitschy handkerchiefs are the beautiful and dainty hankies with hand made lace, crochet and embroidery. You can find them from Madeira with elegant monograms or from Switzerland with exquisite embroidery. Many were made from the finest Irish linen and the hanky with the colorful embroidery is from China.

Our mothers and grandmothers delicately crocheted and tatted these textile treasures and adorned them with hand embroidery and lace. Daughters would carry a fine, white linen and lace hanky on their wedding day. Antique wedding hankies, carried only once then tucked away for safe keeping, can still be found in mint condition. Two of my most treasured were given to me by my mother-in-law for the birth of my first child. Sewn into baby bonnets with satin ribbons attached, they are affectionately displayed on my nightstand.

I love vintage hankies! I carry one always and pin one to my purse with a matching rhinestone brooch to compliment my outfit for the day. They can be used on shelves as colorful or elegant doilies, made into aprons and quilts, doll clothes, accent pillows; they may be used as intended or decoratively framed to showcase their whimsy and beauty.

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