Friday, 4 March 2011

Some samples of a traveling salesman's silky wares from the '30s!

I bought these at an antiques fair the other day, an intriguing home-made book stuffed full of 1930s silk handkerchief samples. It is simply made from sheets of brown paper bound in the middle with coarse string, to which have been carefully pinned about 130 silk handkerchiefs in a wonderful range of designs; some pages have up to seven different ones placed neatly on top of each other and pinned in place.

There are florals, paisleys, spotted and patterned, many still with labels giving the price per dozen, or proclaiming them to be hand printed British silk. It looks like the kind of sample book a traveling salesman would have made up for himself and kept in a smart little suitcase to collect orders for 'a dozen of the florals' or '2 dozen nauticals & 3 dozen paisleys' from various shops on his round. They remind me of handkerchiefs tucked neatly into coat or jacket pockets or drenched in smelling salts to revive fainting ladies in episodes of Poirot!


  1. Wonderful! Being an anachronism, I still wear a silk hankie in my top pocket. Always flounced, as silk should be, never fluted like cotton. Macclesfield Silk for preference but sometimes Italian will have to do.

    This was learned in 1970 as a callow youth noticing every detail of the ways, manners and dress of a Senior Comptometer Salesman in our office, who usually outsold the rest of us each month. It seemed important and became a lifetime habit.

    It is quite hard to find good silk hankies nowadays. You did well but it would be a shame to split the collection up.

    Regular Rod

  2. Hi Rod, I like your style! I agree about splitting them up, I originally bought them to re-sell, but feel the same, and will try to justify keeping them by selling something else, a wonderful archive. Lois x

  3. Love your work! The colors are so rich and beautiful.

    Wanted to share my blog too.

    Cheers- Neko