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  • Handkerchiefs

    Apart from rags, what handkerchiefs did people in the Civil War use?
    What were the sizes, materials and production methods used?
    So far, I have not been able to find detailed information. Not even on the AC forums!

    I am especially looking for information on the thikness/weight, color and patterns of textiles used for common handkerchiefs.
    What I have deduced so far is: cotton, silk or linen; about 40x40cm; white or light colored; line patterns. But that is far from enough detail for me. I would especially welcome original material on the forum.

    Raymond Rammeloo
    The Netherlands
    Raymond Rammeloo

  • #2
    Re: Handkerchiefs

    I use a 16x16 in. Handkerchief made from Homespun Cotton. The edge is flat felled.

    John
    [FONT="Georgia"][SIZE="3"]John R. Legg[/SIZE][/FONT]

    [email]Johnlegg90@gmail.com[/email]

    "Alright, Legg, what did you screw up now?" - C. Henderson
    Ft.Blakeley LH - May 25-27
    Maryland, My Maryland. - September 7-9
    6th Wisconsin Antietam LH - September 15-17
    150th Perryville - October 5-7
    Valley Forge - January 18-20, 2013

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Handkerchiefs

      Raymond, I've looked at three handkerchiefs attributed to the Victorian period (no known Civil War provenance but same general time frame). All three were completely different. #1 was white silk with an embroidered pattern around the edge, was 15inX15in, and had handsewn felled edges. #2 was a plaid cotton, was machine sewn, and was 18inX14in. #3 was plain white cotton with an embroidered series of ivy-like leaves around the four sides, had handsewn felled edges, and was 16inX15 1/2 in. Hope this helps a little.
      Ross L. Lamoreaux
      rlamoreaux@tampabayhistorycenter.org


      "...and if profanity was included in the course of study at West Point, I am sure that the Army of the Cumberland had their share of the prize scholars in this branch." - B.F. Scribner, 38th Indiana Vol Inf

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Handkerchiefs

        In a bizarre coincidence, I've spent this holiday washing, bleaching, bluing, starching, ironing and folding 4 dozen men's handkerchiefs of a variety of styles and patterns, though all of them of the dressy sort--and tossing a good 3 dozen more into the rag bag, as too worn to use. I was longing for my copy of the Workwoman's Guide to check the various period requirements for such--alas its 3 hours away, I won't be home anytime soon, and I can't seem to access an on-line copy.

        One curiosity for me, as I've seen handkerchiefs dating back to the 1880's but no further, was the ubiquitious feature of the whipped rolled edge on a dress handkerchief, especially one of fine material.

        Since Mr. Lamoreaux is reporting a 'flat felled' seam on the examples he's reviewed, does anyone know when the style of manufacture changed ?
        Terre Hood Biederman
        Yassir, I used to be Mrs. Lawson. I still run period dyepots, knit stuff, and cause trouble.

        sigpic
        Wearing Grossly Out of Fashion Clothing Since 1958.

        ADVENTURE CALLS. Can you hear it? Come ON.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Handkerchiefs

          Run-and-fell is something one does on seams, not hems. A plain folded hem is perfectly flat, rather than whipped, and may be the actual technique referred to.

          Workwoman's Guide (1838) on Pocket Handkerchiefs:

          "These are made of French cambric, fine lawn, Scotch cambric, cotton, or silk; the former are chiefly worn by ladies, and the latter by gentlemen; lawn and Scotch cambric are used by young persons and children; cotton handkercheifs are confined to the working classes.

          "Ladies' pocket handkerchiefs are usually eleven or twelve nails square; they are purchased woven on purpose with borders. Sometimes very fine cambric may be procured eleven nails wide, which many persons prefer to the bordered handkerchiefs; these are often made with broad hems, half or three quarters of a nail deep, and a row of open veining worked at the bottom of the hem, or a narrow edging of lace is sewed all around.

          "Cambric handkercheifs for gentlemen are larger than those for ladies, say fourteen or fifteen nails."


          One nail equals 2.25 inches.

          Terre, some of the whitework hankies I've seen for mid-century have one corder worked, and the rest whipped. This information from WWG indicates a regular, non-worked hanky might have a plain hemmed edge, with or without some hemstitching (openwork veining.)
          Regards,
          Elizabeth Clark

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Handkerchiefs

            Originally posted by Spinster View Post
            I was longing for my copy of the Workwoman's Guide to check the various period requirements for such--alas its 3 hours away, I won't be home anytime soon, and I can't seem to access an on-line copy.

            Since Mr. Lamoreaux is reporting a 'flat felled' seam on the examples he's reviewed, does anyone know when the style of manufacture changed ?
            I looked in the Workwoman's Guide and they did not have anything that I could find about making pocket handkerchiefs. I looked in the online version on Google Books as well as my hardcopy of the book. There were directions for making a pocket handkerchief case.

            I did find the following in The Seamstress: A Guide to Plain and Fancy Needlework (1843). In a section on neck and pocket handkerchiefs it stated, "Pocket handkerchiefs are neatly hemmed, and sometimes have a worked border [embroidered]. Those used by gentlemen are of a larger size than those of ladies." No additional information was given. The same information was given in several other books published between 1843 and 1861.

            In other period sewing books, instructions for hemming was given and found that hemming was separate from felling. The term hemming was used in conjunction with encasing a raw edge and the term felling was used when a seaming two pieces of fabric together.

            Hem-stitching was mentioned in various other books (not needlework books) but no specific were included.

            In the book, Guide to Needlework (1876) there were instructions for a regular hem (the same as given in earlier plain sewing books), a rolled hem and an open-worked hem-stitch.

            Below is some information that I pulled from my files on handkerchiefs.

            From the Charleston Daily Mercury 2 May 1854
            "Handkerchiefs, cotton, fast colors, 32 x 30 inches, weight not less than
            2 oz. each, texture 8 x 8 to 1/8 inch
            Handkerchiefs, fancy silk, fast colors, 28 1/2 c 27 inches to weigh not
            less than 5 oz. 140 grams per piece, texture 8 x 11 to 1/8 inch"

            On the Steamboat Bertrand, there were black silk handkerchiefs among the
            cargo. The size of those were 32 1/4" by 31 3/8". Two edges were flat hemmed
            and the other two used the selvages as an edge.

            I have additional infomation on hankerchief sizes from other people who have original ones in their collections and they were usually about 19 to 20 inches square but they did not indicate the type of hem.

            From the Encyclopedia of Domestic Economy (1845) Hankerchiefs were made from silk, cotton, linen, lawn (type of fine linen), cambric (a type of fine linen), bandana silk (black and prints with a red, yellow or blue ground), and bandana cotton (made from a fine calico dyed bright turkey red and a discharge printing process was used). The process of dying the cotton to imitate the India bandana silk was described in the book. It also indicated that India silk was preferred because it was the most durable. White pocket handkerchiefs were made from lawn and cambric. Some had borders but most were plain.

            I found no indication of checked handkerchiefs but that does not mean that they did not exist.
            Last edited by Virginia Mescher; 07-05-2007, 02:03 PM. Reason: found addtional information
            Virginia Mescher
            vmescher@vt.edu
            http://www.raggedsoldier.com

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            • #7
              Re: Handkerchiefs

              Virginia, the little bit on pocket handkerchiefs is on page 170 in my copy of WWG--it's the enlarged version from Old Sturbridge Village.
              Regards,
              Elizabeth Clark

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Handkerchiefs

                Originally posted by ElizabethClark View Post
                Virginia, the little bit on pocket handkerchiefs is on page 170 in my copy of WWG--it's the enlarged version from Old Sturbridge Village.
                Thanks. I don't know why that didn't turn up on the on-line version.

                The narrowness of the cambric explains why lace or added borders were sometimes added to ladies' handkerchiefs.
                Virginia Mescher
                vmescher@vt.edu
                http://www.raggedsoldier.com

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Handkerchiefs

                  I once made one by looking at one in the Union EOG, but I didn't know about proper types of hand stitching and only used a running stitch. What sort of stitch would the "hemming" of a gentleman's handkerchief be?

                  My thanks in advance!
                  [FONT=Trebuchet MS]Joanna Norris Forbes[/FONT]

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Handkerchiefs

                    Hmmm... some of the ones described above, like the ones from the Bertrand, are quite large! Maybe I'm unclear on what kind of handkerchief we're talking about... the nose-blowing, tear-wiping kind, or the wear-around-your-neck kind?
                    Laura Daugherty
                    [I]An Oberlin-educated Hoosier, recently emigrated to the Kansas/Missouri border[/I]

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Handkerchiefs

                      Primarily we are talking about the nose wiping, tear wiping, persipration wiping, dust wiping, and all the other minor emergencies a gentleman would encounter.

                      They do seem very large to the modern eye--first, look to the fabric types and realize how thin they were, and how easily folded--then, look to the need for such, in a world where paper towels and paper tissues are not in use, where the primary mode of transportation involves sweaty horses, sweaty people or sooty steam engines. A man with manners was never without one.
                      Terre Hood Biederman
                      Yassir, I used to be Mrs. Lawson. I still run period dyepots, knit stuff, and cause trouble.

                      sigpic
                      Wearing Grossly Out of Fashion Clothing Since 1958.

                      ADVENTURE CALLS. Can you hear it? Come ON.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Handkerchiefs

                        Next question -
                        Where on the person were they stored? The breast pocket of the sack coat? Inside pocket of the coat? Vest pocket? Crammed into the trouser pocket?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Handkerchiefs

                          Dear Noah:

                          Well, I know that if you were wearing a tail coat, some men carried their silk handerchiefs in the pockets in the tails. I know this because there were pickpockets in NYC who specialized in stealing silk handkerchiefs from the tailcoat pockets. Talk about niche occupations!

                          If you'd put your silk handerchief there, chances are good you kept your cotton or linen one someplace simliar -- do they have pockets there in frock coats?

                          Sincerely,
                          Karin Timour
                          Period Knitting -- Socks, Sleeping Hats, Balaclavas
                          Come see me at September Storm -- I'll have the sock line with me.
                          Atlantic Guard Soldiers' Aid Society
                          Email: Ktimour@aol.com

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Handkerchiefs

                            Originally posted by NoahBriggs View Post
                            Next question -
                            Where on the person were they stored? The breast pocket of the sack coat? Inside pocket of the coat? Vest pocket? Crammed into the trouser pocket?
                            I have one tintype that can partially answer this question. Check out that tear drop pattern. & looking at it again, they kind look amoeba-ish!
                            Attached Files
                            Last edited by Shockoe Hill Cats; 07-06-2007, 09:33 PM. Reason: Tryin' to make sense
                            Jason C. Spellman
                            Skillygalee Mess

                            "Those fine fellows in Virginia are pouring out their heart's blood like water. Virginia will be heroic dust--the army of glorious youth that has been buried there."--Mary Chesnut

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Handkerchiefs

                              Now THERE is a young man ready for any emergency!

                              And the teardrop print on what is likely a silk hanky (I'm baseing this on the look of the drape of the fabric) would have multiple uses as a fashion statement and a friend maker ....

                              Remembering that a gentleman who has turned out to be one of the finest friends I have, I first met :cry_smile when he handed me his handkerchief in a courthouse stairwell, and kept right on walking without a word, late for court.
                              Terre Hood Biederman
                              Yassir, I used to be Mrs. Lawson. I still run period dyepots, knit stuff, and cause trouble.

                              sigpic
                              Wearing Grossly Out of Fashion Clothing Since 1958.

                              ADVENTURE CALLS. Can you hear it? Come ON.

                              Comment

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