Handkerchief thumbnail 1
Handkerchief thumbnail 2
Not currently on display at the V&A

Handkerchief

2nd half 19th century (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

In the 19th century people used plain linen or cotton handkerchiefs for the same varied purposes they do today. However, if the handkerchiefs were decorated they could also be carried purely as fashionable accessories and given as gifts. In such cases they often incorporated the initials of their owner in an elaborate monogram, particularly if they were part of a trousseau. Some of the most ornamental were of whitework embroidery, made with such skill that they were reversible, being equally fine on each side, and trimmed with hand-made lace.

This example has the initial A with a crown. It is likely to have belonged to Princess Alexandra, wife to Queen Victoria’s eldest son Edward, and later his queen.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Linen with whitework embroidery and bobbin lace
Brief Description
Whitework and lace handkerchief, initial A, 1850-1900, French
Physical Description
Handkerchief with fine lawn centre. It is decorated with whitework embroidery including the initial A under a crown/coronet in one corner. There is a narrow strip of Valenciennes bobbin lace inserted into the embroidered lawn, and some tiny needle lace fillings. A further deeper border of Valenciennes edges the whole handkerchief. This border is slightly scalloped, and lies in gentle gathers.
Dimensions
  • Length: 46.5cm
  • Width: 48cm
Credit line
Given by Her Majesty Queen Mary, consort of King George V
Object history
Given by HM Queen Mary, among a group of handkerchiefs and lace. One of the other handkershiefs with initial A is labelled as having belonged to Princess Alexandra.
Summary
In the 19th century people used plain linen or cotton handkerchiefs for the same varied purposes they do today. However, if the handkerchiefs were decorated they could also be carried purely as fashionable accessories and given as gifts. In such cases they often incorporated the initials of their owner in an elaborate monogram, particularly if they were part of a trousseau. Some of the most ornamental were of whitework embroidery, made with such skill that they were reversible, being equally fine on each side, and trimmed with hand-made lace.



This example has the initial A with a crown. It is likely to have belonged to Princess Alexandra, wife to Queen Victoria’s eldest son Edward, and later his queen.
Collection
Accession Number
T.77-1939

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record createdMay 15, 2007
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