Handkerchief

1861-1901 (made)
Handkerchief thumbnail 1
Handkerchief thumbnail 2
Not currently on display at the V&A

Artist/Maker

This is a mourning handkerchief owned by Queen Victoria. It is of the finest cambric linen and the embroidery shows her own cipher. Victorian etiquette ruled that widows went into deep mourning (called First Mourning) for a year and a day after the death of their husband.

Some sources advised that during this time only black handkerchiefs should be used. This advice varied, and a complete list of clothes needed for respectable First Mourning and published in the 1881 issue of Sylvia's Home Journal included 'Twelve handkerchiefs with black borders, for ordinary use, cambric' and 'Twelve of finer cambric for better occasions'. Decoration, in the form of black edging, took a number of forms from plain printed or woven borders to black embroidery, as in this example, and narrowed as mourning diminished.

It is not possible to date this handkerchief accurately. The depth of Queen Victoria's anguish on the death of Prince Albert meant that her mourning extended the usual periods acceptable and, as royalty, she set or flouted trends to suit herself. The handkerchief was given to the Museum along with other royal accessories by the Duke of Gloucester, a great grandson of Queen Victoria.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Fine linen cambric, embroidered with black silk
Brief Description
Queen Victoria's Mourning Handkerchief
Dimensions
  • Height: 46cm
  • Width: 46cm
Marks and Inscriptions
(owner's mark; Embroidered with Queen Victoria's cipher; embroidery)
Gallery Label
British Galleries: Queen Victoria popularised the use of special mourning handkerchiefs. This is one of many that were made for her during her long period of mourning for Prince Albert, who died in 1861. Widows usually used either black handkerchiefs or white handkerchiefs edged with black.(27/03/2003)
Credit line
Given by the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester
Subject depicted
Summary
This is a mourning handkerchief owned by Queen Victoria. It is of the finest cambric linen and the embroidery shows her own cipher. Victorian etiquette ruled that widows went into deep mourning (called First Mourning) for a year and a day after the death of their husband.



Some sources advised that during this time only black handkerchiefs should be used. This advice varied, and a complete list of clothes needed for respectable First Mourning and published in the 1881 issue of Sylvia's Home Journal included 'Twelve handkerchiefs with black borders, for ordinary use, cambric' and 'Twelve of finer cambric for better occasions'. Decoration, in the form of black edging, took a number of forms from plain printed or woven borders to black embroidery, as in this example, and narrowed as mourning diminished.



It is not possible to date this handkerchief accurately. The depth of Queen Victoria's anguish on the death of Prince Albert meant that her mourning extended the usual periods acceptable and, as royalty, she set or flouted trends to suit herself. The handkerchief was given to the Museum along with other royal accessories by the Duke of Gloucester, a great grandson of Queen Victoria.
Collection
Accession Number
T.49-1957

About this object record

Explore the Collections contains over a million catalogue records, and over half a million images. It is a working database that includes information compiled over the life of the museum. Some of our records may contain offensive and discriminatory language, or reflect outdated ideas, practice and analysis. We are committed to addressing these issues, and to review and update our records accordingly.

You can write to us to suggest improvements to the record.

Suggest Feedback

record createdSeptember 28, 2007
Record URL