Sniff, Sniff

No we don’t have colds, nor are we crying over spilt milk, but if we were, we would be all set.  After the popularity of our last hanky giveaway, we decided to do a hanky post, as we are both into hankies, and can’t pass a pile of them without a look-see to check if we need anything.  I once went to a sale where there were oodles of handkerchiefs.  There were several of us looking through them and purchasing them.  The lady at the sale said, “Oh, these are so old fashioned, guess no one uses them anymore”, and then three of us whipped hankies out of our pockets!  They are softer than tissues, and if you accidentally run one through the wash still in a pocket, there is no linty aftermath to clean up!

I was going to do a quick history of the hanky, but this wonderful website does a better job than anything I could come up with:

After you read our post, be sure and take some time to tour her collection, as it is pretty darned amazing.

So without ado, here are some of our favorites.

Probably some of the nicest ones to use are the sweet handmade ones with fancy edgings.  Lots of soft cloth for your nose, but pretty and dainty anyway.  Edgings can be tatted, crochet, knotted and knitted.  I have a soft spot for the color-changing thread ones.  The yellow and brown one is supposed to be a butterfly, but the crafter might have done better adding some antennae:

Colorful Edgings    Fancy edgings


White work hankies abound.  Tons of white on white work.  Some of these are hand done, and some are commercial.  These are at least bleach-able when you use them!


While we are doing whites, we come to the wedding hankies, or as I like to call them, “wave from the window hankies”.  Perfect for waving as the train pulls out, or to dab a widow’s tear in the court room.  I had one of these once that was literally one square inch of silk surrounded by a four inch lace border.  It was pretty amazing.

Lacy Hankies


Wave or Wedding


Not all lace is white; here is a lovely pink one:

Lacy Hankies2

As pretty as these are, we do tend to be more drawn to the graphic ones.  They make you smile!

Deb has a couple of dogs (of course!):

Dog Hankies


For some reason, cats are harder to find. They show up on tea towels more, so none to share from my collection, but I do have some wild animals in this one:

Glorious GraphicsNotice the native dancers around the edge, and I am not sure where they are living that you find moose and tiger skins, but whatever.  The rose one has some fun ’60s graphics as well.  Both of these are signed, and many designers did wonderful hankies around this time.

Other graphics include many holiday hankies.  A handkerchief was an acceptable gift when many other things were not, so Valentine’s examples abound, as well as the Christmas ones that were ubiquitous under the tree:

Holiday Hankies


Some hankies have fun shaped edges.  I love these, but ironing them is a pain:

Fancy Shapes


There are souvenirs of both places and events, although who would want to remember Wyoming is beyond me, plus your hanky would just blow away up there.  Guess it would be easier to catch than a Kleenex:

Remember Wyoming


Here is Deb’s wonderful wartime memento.  It’s very fragile after all these years:

Wartime Souvenir Hankie

I think Sister must have cherished it for many a year before Deb got it at an estate sale.

As well as humorous ones of all kinds:


1950s Calorie Hankie

It’s pretty sad, when you can’t blow your nose without dieting!


There are also some pretty spectacular embroidered pieces:

Embroidery on a grand scaleThese are both fairly large hankies.  I kept the W, as I turned it over and called it an M and it worked for me!  Many handkerchiefs had lots of handwork, but many were also commercially made.  I found this entire stack of samples at a sale a few years back:

Sample PakYou can see many of them look handmade, but who knew?  There are even some pretty convincing white work ones:

Closeup samplesI apologize for the foxing on these, but I didn’t want to wash them and risk removing the numbers, as this is not something you see often.


Deb also included a couple of interesting hanky accessories.  Every girl had to have a place to keep her supply.  There are lots of variations on these hanky books:

Hankie Storage BookMany of them came in this pink satin.  It must have been very popular at the time.  The pouch just folds open to place your hankies inside and then ties shut.  If the soft route is not for you, here is a hanky box:

Hankie BoxWell, guess it’s pink too!  This was definitely Deb’s as she loves silhouettes.


Please don’t forget to tour the hanky site, and for those of you that have stuck with us through all this, here is our giveaway:

Give away HankieJust leave a comment here or on Facebook to be entered, and you can sniff right along with us!  We’ll draw the winner on lucky Friday the 13th sometime in the evening.

This entry was posted in Giveaways, Holidays, True Confessions, Weird Collections and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Sniff, Sniff

  1. lyn lewis says:

    Oh I so love a hanky and edged ones are even better.
    I adore the whitework ones must admit and as you say, they are so often such soft lovely cottons.

    • kathy & deb says:

      If you asked Kathy and me to turn out our purses, you would find our hankies right there with everything else. Who would ever chose a kleenex?

  2. Barbara says:

    I too enjoy searchinf for hankies, I don’thave one in my purse but I do have a small collection. i kept a few of my father’s hankies after he died. They are not not as decorative but I like them anyway

    • kathy & deb says:

      How sweet that you have some of your father’s hankies. Hankies are surprisingly soft after a few washes; I mostly use printed or edged ones for blowing my nose. I would feel guilty for using some of the gorgeous embroidered hankies for anything but wiping a tear from my eye!

  3. I am a fellow hanky fan. My mom, grandmas, and aunts all had hankies in their purses. Over the years, I have been collecting them. Currently, the best of the bunch are clipped to a cafe rod as a valence in the spare bedroom. They are away from sunlight and most still look brand new.

    • kathy & deb says:

      Hooray for hankies. My dad was always the one with a big white hanky full of kid snot in his pocket–thanks Dad! You should use some of your less valuable ones and continue the Meyer tradition.

  4. tkarengold says:

    I have a hefty hanky collection just waiting for … I don’t know what. Actually I just bought a book that has doll dresses made from hankies. I’ll add it to my project list of things to do but probably won’t.

    • kathy & deb says:

      I’ve seen some of those patterns; the embroidered ones make cute aprons. Someone posted that they made a valence from hankies for the guest room–at least you could see them once in a while. I gave my three sisters hankies and they use them now too–we were very stylish at our uncle’s funeral. 😦

  5. I admit, I do carry a hankie, but only when I’m in costume. The rest of the time, I just don’t think about it. And I don’t have as many as I’d like.

  6. Steph Gazell says:

    So my Dad once sent me an old hankie – with violets – or as he saw them, pansies – on it, with a note that said, “Steph – The little, purple pansy “hanky” may be suitable for setting off a small piece of china or silver or glassware in your display, or as a shawl for one of your larger, more mature Barbie dolls. Only a “Doll” about my age would carry an item like this for everyday use.
    Some day, when you are old enough to understand (and forgive) such aberrant behavior, I will tell you (only in conditions of absolute secrecy) how I came to possess the purple, lavender and green handkerchief. Speaking of crying, Grampa Ralph passed away 25 years ago, April 19th. How I miss him!!! Much Love, Dad”

    My Dad had a wonderful sense of humor – so you can hear his smiles and laughter in what he wrote. He never did tell me the story of the purple, lavender and green hankie. I’ve had it on my dresser ever since. In my drawers is a handkerchief from my husband’s father, and a hankie I carried on my wedding day. But this one is on my dresser to see every day, and every day I wonder who gave it to him.

    I hope a picture will work here!


    • kathy & deb says:

      Thank you for sharing such a sweet story about your Dad. It’s a great thing that you see it every day and think about him.

  7. Nilsa says:

    I remember having a hanky in my school uniform pocket. My mom and grandmother used to crochet the edges, like one of the white ones from your photos. Now I want to have some hankies. Thanks for the link.

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