Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Whatever happened to the handkerchief?

(these handkerchiefs can be found here)

Does anyone know whatever happened to the handkerchief? I love watching old movies and seeing ladies remove a beautiful handkerchief from their purse to dab their eyes or even wipe a little dirt off of a child's face. I remember watching You've Got Mail and the character Meg Ryan played was astonished that a young girl had no idea what a handkerchief was!

I have never carried a handkerchief. I know that my dad keeps one (or used to) in his suit pocket, but that's a manly handkerchief and they usually are just plain white. A handkerchief for a lady is flowery or embroidered or lace-edged. You know, lovely.

I did a little online research and found this site about the history of the handkerchief:

A handkerchief is a small, square, thin cloth used for wiping.

The pocket handkerchief is in fact only 400 years old. It was the idea of a Venetian lady to cut a square out of pure flax and then decorate it with lace. She showed it to the people in a public garden, where the delicate handkerchief excited the general curiosity of the onlookers.

From Italy, the handkerchief soon crossed the Alps and spread through France where it was found to be a great success with the Lords and Ladies in the court of Henry II. The handkerchief of this period was made with the most expensive fabrics, adorned with embroidery and were objects of great luxury.

In 1850, Germany adopted the handkerchief ,but it was only used by royalty and the aristocrats.

Until 18th century, the handkerchief came in many forms. One day at Versailles, Marie-Antoinette made the observation that the square form would be more convenient and pleasing. Louis XVI published a decree ordering the length of handkerchiefs produced in the kingdom would be equal to their width. Now 150 years later the handkerchiefs are being replaced by tissue ones.

I'll let you know that the quote is from India's national newspaper site. Are they the only country to care about handkerchiefs? Does no one else use them anymore??

I also did some checking into the history of Kleenex. Very interesting.

In 1924, the Kleenex brand of facial tissue was first introduced. Kleenex tissue was invented as a means to remove cold cream. Early advertisements linked Kleenex to Hollywood makeup departments and sometimes included endorsements from movie stars (Helen Hayes and Jean Harlow) who used Kleenex to remove their theatrical make-up with cold cream.

Kleenex and Noses
By 1926, Kimberly-Clark Corporation, the manufacturer of Kleenex, became intrigued by the number of letters from customers stating that they used their product as a disposable handkerchief.

A test was conducted in the Peoria, Illinois newspaper. Ads were run depicting the two main uses of Kleenex; either as a means to remove cold cream or as disposable handkerchief for blowing noses. The readers were asked to respond. Results showed that 60% used Kleenex tissue for blowing their nose. By 1930, Kimberly-Clark had changed the way they advertised Kleenex and sales doubled proving that the customer is always right.

Kleenex Trivia
In 1928, the familiar pop-up tissue cartons with a perforated opening was introduced. In 1929, colored Kleenex tissue was introduced and a year later printed tissues. In 1932, pocket packs of Kleenex were introduced.

So it appears that people started using Kleenex because they preferred to use them to blow their noses. Kleenexes can be thrown away and you don't have to worry about washing them. But there is no beauty, no femininity in a box of Kleenex, is there? Truly, taking care of handkerchiefs in this day and age is quite simple- just launder them! At least 7 handkerchiefs should suffice to see you through the week and you will launder the used ones as you go. Much more beautiful, wouldn't you say?

So what about you? Do you use handkerchiefs? To be honest with you, I do not. I have been looking for some, but I am not aware of any stores from which to purchase them. Please, if you know where I may attain some, let me know. I think this is just a small way that I can add a touch of femininity to my life.


Denial Renae said...

I LOVE hankies! I have a whole shoebox filled with them. I need to start carrying them again. I inherited a lot from my grandma and the rest I found at antique and thrift stores.

Rachel said...

Ditto to what Denial said. :o) I LOVE hankies as well!

I also inherited a few from my great-grandma, and the rest I have found at thrift stores. Even online you can buy them. Once I bought several hand-stitched ones from therustywheelbarrow.com. I think it would be fun to learn how to do embroidery and decorate my own!

Rachel said...

Sorry...just went to that site, and they don't sell them anymore! :(

Sharon said...

I love lace hankies and have a few that were my moms. Your post was very interesting and thanks for the information.

theups said...

Denial- a whole shoebow? What a blessing!!! Thank you for letting me know about looking for some at thrift stores!!!

Rachel- before I even saw your second post, I went to therustywheelbarrow.com site. :( I'm sad that they don't have any handkerchiefs, but it is a LOVELY site!! Thank you for sharing it!!

Sharon Kay- I'll bet your lace handkerchiefs are just beautiful!!

Mrs. U

theups said...

Goodness gracious, I need to read my comments before I hit publish. LOL!!!

That should be "shoebox" NOT shoebow!! HAHAAH!!

Mrs. U

Mimi said...

What interesting research you've done! I didn't know the history of handkerchifs or the fact that Kleenex was orignally to remove cold cream.

I have some very pretty hankies that Dh brought me back from a business trip to Switzerland. But, I've used them to make a decorative cover for a dresser, rather than as handkerchiefs. Maybe, I ought to carry one with me.

My father always carries a masculine handkerchief. Dh used to use them a lot, too, but he hasn't in the past few years.

Kelli said...

What a wonderful post! Mrs. Wilt did a post on hankies awhile back and since then I keep one in my purse and the girls put one in their Bibles for church on Sunday. I find mine at antique stores.

Someone Beautiful said...

Did you ever get any hankies?! I put a link to your post on my blog-I hope that is ok. (Let me know if it isn't). I LOVE your idea! :) I am going to look for some or try making them when I find the time. :) Thanks!

Paula said...

Try www.thelaceshop.com. They have some lovely hankies reasonable priced.

Mrs. C

theups said...

Hi Elizabeth!! Hankies from Switzerland!! What a treat!!

Hi Kelli! I didn't know about Mrs. Wilt's post about handkerchiefs. I'll have to go read it!

Hi Honey!! You are going to MAKE some? When you do, will you please blog about it? I would love to learn!

Mrs. C, how are you? Thank you for sharing this website!! It's a BEAUTIFUL site!!

Mrs. U

Cherish the Home said...

What an interesting post!

Marie said...

Icky! I have to go with disposable on this!

M,R,J1,J2 said...

I found your blog on the RQ site and thought I'd stop by and say hi. I had handkerchiefs when I was growing up in Germany, but I never used them. Now, I prefer Kleenex.

Orlando, FL

Tammy said...

Oh, I wish I had seen this post before I went shopping yesterday! My sister and I were in an antique store, and I have never seen so many hankies! There were probably over 100 hankies in various places throughout the store!

I don't like the idea of blowing my nose into something I have to wash. LOL My husband has hankies that he uses though, and I wash those. I don't know what the big deal is for me! Haha

Amy said...

I've been looking for some too, but not much luck yet. I have an old Martha Stewart Baby issue where they have projects made from vintage children's handkerchiefs that were just gorgeous. Reading your post gave me a fun idea though - I could make my own!!! I found some lovely vintage embroidery transfers once. Now I think I know what I'll use them for :)

I love your blog's floral background. It reminds me very much of a small scrap of fabric in my stash.

theups said...

Marie, Michaela and Tammy, I can completely see why you would want to use disposable. When I finally possess some, I would probably just use one for "public" and use disposable at home (especially if I'm sporting a cold!!).

Amy, please, if you make a hankie, would you mind sharing it with us? I would LOVE to see and learn!!!

Miranda, an apron made from handkerchiefs!! WONDERFUL!!!!! Do you have a picture you can share? I would love to see it. How creative!!

Mrs. U

~Kathy~ said...

I was given one by my dad's aunt onet time. It is quite lovely. I've also bought some for my almost 11yodd. She just loves to carry them in her purse, or the pocket of her skirt. I can't remember now where I bought them, it was a while back. Thanks for a beautiful post.

Unknown said...

Hello I'm Sophie from India. I make Handmade Lace Hankies.

Since we don't have a minimum Order quantity I'll be most happy to make Handmade Bobbin Lace Hankies for you.

Kindly contact me at bridallacehankies@hotmail.com or handmadebobbinlace@gmail.com

Please click on the following links to view samples of our LACE Handmade Bobbin Lace designs.


I do hope you like my Handmade Laces.

Thank you so much.

Kind regards


Anonymous said...

I use hankerchiefs exclusively. I get mine from a vintage shop in town. I have TEN!!! I have given one embroidered "MOTHER" to a close friend/new mother, and make sure to give one to my 29 year old dd when I see her and she's "in need"!

Nenik Keseharian said...

I live in Indonesia, one of the South East Asia countries, where handkerchief is very familiar both for men and women. We use it for wiping brow when perspiring, covering nose from dust and air pollution, and sometimes for sneezing and blowing nose although we prefer use tissue for heavy and dirty duties. I have about 2 dozens for daily use, they are embroidered, checked pattern, jaquard, and floral printed, while lacey hankies I only find in some pictures from the internet. How lovely they are.


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