Museum Homepage

The San Mateo County Historical Association
Online Collections Database

The mission of the San Mateo County Historical Association is to inspire wonder and discovery
of the cultural and natural history of San Mateo County.

Object Record

  • Email This Page
  • Send Feedback
Catalog Number 2006.216.001
Description Handkerchief, c. 1937. Small brown fabric handkerchief with striped dark brown and cream edging.
Object Name Handkerchief
Collection 3D - Personal Objects
Title Handkerchief, c. 1937
Date c. 1937
Creator Unknown
Role Fiber Artist
Inscription Text none
Provenance
Notes "A handkerchief /?hæ?k?rt??f/, also called a hanky or historically handkercher, is a form of a kerchief, typically a hemmed square of thin fabric that can be carried in the pocket or purse, and which is intended for personal hygiene purposes such as wiping one's hands or face, or blowing one's nose. A handkerchief is also sometimes used as a purely decorative accessory in a suit pocket, it is then called a pocket square. It is also an important accessory in many folkdances in many regions like the Balkans and the Middle East; an example of a folkdance using handkerchiefs is Kalamatianos….

Before people used the word handkerchief, the word kerchief alone was common. This term came from two French words: couvrir, which means "to cover," and chef, which means "head."
In the times of ancient Greece and Rome, handkerchiefs were often used the way they are today. But in the Middle Ages, kerchiefs were usually used to cover the head.
Then in the 16th century, people in Europe began to carry kerchiefs in their pockets to wipe their forehead or their nose. To distinguish this kind of kerchief from the one used to cover the head, the word "hand" was added to "kerchief".

King Richard II of England, who reigned from 1377 to 1399, is widely believed to have invented the cloth handkerchief, as surviving documents written by his courtiers describe his use of square pieces of cloth to wipe his nose. Certainly they were in existence by Shakespeare's time, and a handkerchief is an important plot device in his play Othello."
[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Handkerchief 3/8/2017]
Dimensions H-16.375 W-16.375 inches
Medium Textile
Search Terms Handkerchief
Household Goods
Toy
Subjects Handkerchiefs