1) Boy's Arctic Walrus Hunters Handkerchief
This on eBay find is so cool!. It is a child's handkerchief in its original box, with its originally glued on tag and the gift tag. In 1911 Howard White received this Christmas gift from his Uncle Eddie.
The handkerchief is not politically correct by today's standards by any means! No way would anyone today give a child an illustration of men clubbing walruses! But in 1911, Arctic and Antarctic exploration has all the romantic appeal and excitement that space exploration had in the 1960s.
In November, 1911 Robert Falcon Scott began his race to reach the south pole before Roald Amundsen.. Before submitting to the elements in early 1912, Scott left a last entry in his diary: "I do not think we can hope for any better things now. We shall stick it out to the end, but we are getting weaker, of course, and the end cannot be far. It seems a pity, but I do not think I can write any more." Roald Amundsen successfully reached the pole. Previous polar explorers included voyages by Peary and Cook, and in the 1840s the lost Franklin expedition captured British attention as expeditions to find Franklin were sent out one after another. The Arctic and Antarctica explorations caused huge national and international excitement.
What little boy would not have been thrilled with this handkerchief!
2) Herbert Hoover Campaign Handkerchief
This silk handkerchief was described on eBay as a circus elephant. Well, I did not believe for a minute it was a circus elephant. It was obviously a Republican political hanky. I bid on it-- and then did research. The blanket on the elephant's back has a prominent "H" and a smaller "C". That lead me to look at Herbert Hoover.
In 1929 Herbert Hoover was elected President of the United States, with Charles Curtis as his Vice President. Today we mostly hear about Hoovervilles and Hoover's failed policies regarding the stock market crash and the ensuing economic disaster we call The Great Depression. What we forget to tell our school children is that Hoover was a compassionate man who organized humanitarian aid to Europe during and after the great World Wars, feeding friend and foe alike. Curtis was a supporter of the five-day work week with no reduction in wages, enabling job sharing, as a solution to the lack of jobs during the Depression. Some day I will donate this to the Hoover Historical Center, as they had not seen it before. It gave me great satisfaction to know I recognized an important bit of textile history!
3) Korean Mission Handkerchief
There are literally millions of these embroidered hankies of two pig-tailed girls playing on a teeter totter. They are found everywhere. I had one in my collection but thought nothing of it until this collection appeared on eBay. The letter and booklet with the handkerchief told the story of am amazing mission in Korea called Operation Hanky.
"Father Al" Schwartz was a Roman Catholic priest assigned to Busan, Korea in 1957. In 1963 he initiated Operation Hanky Self-Help Embroidery Program, employing 3,000 impoverished women. The women were given cloth and embroidery thread, and the work was done in their own homes. His early experience as a Fuller Brush Salesman led him to develop a letter campaign with a hanky as a premium. The appeal had a one out of three success rate of response, compared to a 7% response before adding the handkerchief. In 1964 there were one million mailings!
Father Schwartz used the proceeds from Operation Hanky to build a hospital, two dispensaries, and orphanage and old-age home, a school, a day care center, an irrigation project, and a cooperative farm program! In addition he granted funds to hospitals, leper colonies, orphanages, schools and charities across Korea.
Is it any wonder that Father Al is being vetted for sainthood?
4) Declaration of Independence Handkerchief by Tammis Keefe
Tammis Keefe is one of the best known and most collected textile designers. In the recent past her rarer handkerchiefs have sold for between $50 and $100! When I started collecting her handkerchiefs, they could be found at flea markets and garage sales for a quarter or a dollar. Find out more about Keefe at http://www.tammiskeefe.com/ . Keefe designed souvenir handkerchiefs for many cities and tourist attractions, including Philadelphia.
We moved from the Midwest to Philly just before the Bicentennial, and it was amazing place to be during those years! We wore "Ask Me" pin-back buttons as we spent our Saturdays visiting the many museums and events, proud (although new) residents. I don't recall many tourists actually asking us anything. As a girl I was interested in Colonial and Early American history. Being in Philly we had the chance to visit the historical sites we had read about.
So this hanky reminds me of those great days in Philadelphia.
5) "Meet Me At the Eagle: Handkerchief
Another Tammis Keefe favorite of mine, which I have in four color ways, is this Meet Me At the Eagle!
We used to ride the subway, trolley, or el to downtown Philly for shopping. In those days, Lit Brothers, Strawbridge & Clothier, Gimbel Brothers, and John Wanamaker had massive stores a few blocks from each other. http://philadelphiaencyclopedia.org/archive/department-stores/ has a great history of these stores. There is nothing like shopping in one of these old department stores. They are beautiful. They have whole floors dedicated to whatever you are looking for. They had women's lounges to rest your weary feet.
Wanamaker's can be seen in the movies "Mannequin", where the hero saves the store owner as she leaves the store and in "Blow Out" with John Travalta crashing into a display window. You can read more about Wanamakers at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wanamaker's
After moving to Philly we soon learned what "Meet me at the Eagle" meant. Wanamaker's Grand Court was amazing! It was built for the Centennial Exposition to lure in tourists from across the world. it includes one of the world's largest pipe organs. And it included a massive bronze eagle that came from the St Louis World's Fair. Soon people were arranging to "meet at the eagle". Wanamakers is now Macy's, but the eagle is still there.
I think I will do a few more posts on some of my favorite handkerchiefs. This has been so much fun!