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Uncut Handkerchiefs (USA)

This is a Uncut handkerchiefs. It is dated ca. 1870 and we acquired it in 1916. Its medium is cotton and its technique is block printed and resist printed on plain weave. It is a part of the Textiles department.

Bandanas were typically sold by textile printers in uncut lengths, to be cut and hemmed by individual merchants. The size of 31 inches square, smaller than handkerchiefs of the past, was standardized by the English in 1829, as bandannas became more commonly used as pocket handkerchiefs rather than head or neck scarves.
This example maintains the bandana’s size and general format, but lacks the brilliant “Turkey red” color and engraved white patterns that characterized the enormously successful bandanna industries in Glasgow, Scotland and Manchester, England. Attributed to the United States, it is a cheaply printed example in which carved wooden blocks were used to apply a paste resist to reserve the white areas, and a dark brown ink to others, as can be seen by the mis-registration running vertically through the center of the piece.

This object was featured in our Object of the Week series in a post titled Two Squares.

This object was donated by Mrs. William P. Treadwell. It is credited Gift of Mrs. William P. Treadwell.

Its dimensions are

H x W: 119 x 77.5 cm (46 7/8 x 30 1/2 in.)

Cite this object as

Uncut Handkerchiefs (USA); cotton; H x W: 119 x 77.5 cm (46 7/8 x 30 1/2 in.); Gift of Mrs. William P. Treadwell; 1916-33-238

This image is in the public domain (free of copyright restrictions). You can copy, modify, and distribute this work without contacting the Smithsonian. For more information, visit the Smithsonian’s Terms of Use page.

If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Uncut Handkerchiefs (USA) |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=5 October 2022 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>