Exhibition Hankies


Brenda Mathews

             Readers will have noticed that some issues ago I started a ‘Letters to the Editor’ section. This has proved to be very popular, and has provided material for the Journal, Wallace the Lion and the International Horse Show correspondence to name but two. It is important that the Study Group is not written off as only being about Wembley or the White City. The collecting ramifications of both these exhibitions could swamp us, so I welcome letters or articles on other subjects. A new member Mrs Brenda Mathews has written to me, and I am publishing the bulk of her letter. I hope that those of you who have any of these, and can help her out with information, will do so. I will gladly forward any letters on to her.

Dear Bill,

            When you wrote to me in February, welcoming me to the Exhibition Study Group, you mentioned that several members are into hankies and scarves.

            I should be interested to learn more about these members collections and thought that if I set out the Exhibitions and Festivals of which I have souvenir hankies, this might “Start the ball rolling”.

Mine include

1908     I have several of the Franco-British Exhibition of this year. One particular one is   embroidered in the corner F.B. Exhibition, with a garland of flowers, and under it is          embroidered the name Lilian. It has been suggested to me that this might have been          embroidered on a machine at the exhibition for a personalised gift.

1911     This large Hanky is also machine embroidered, bearing flags and the words Coronation     Exhibition 1911. Interestingly, it has also with the name Lillian (but with two ll’s).

1933     This is printed as a souvenir of the Wakefield Pageant held in 1933. Enquiries of the local museum have informed me of details of this Historical Pageant of Wakefield and West      Riding which was held in Clarence Park from June 17th -24th 1933.

1937     Printed “Paris Exposition International” I should be interested in information about this event.

1938     The Glasgow Empire Exhibition was commemorated on several hankies. Most of mine are            printed with colourful designs showing the Nation’s flags and the Tower of the Empire            building. A small cotton souvenir is embroidered with a rural scene and the words “an       Clachan” Gaelic for what? (I believe ‘an clachan, means ‘a or the village’ Editor)

1951     Within my lifetime this, The Festival Of Britain, and I have a few of the event !

            Several are of a satin like material, in various colours, edged with white lace and embroidered in red white and blue. One has the words “To Dear Mother” stitched under the emblem.

            My favourite hanky of this festival is covered with printed scenes, including the Battle of   Trafalgar, the Knighting of Sir Francis Drake and the signing of the Magna Carta.

1958     A fascinating plan of the layout of Expo 1958 held in Belgium. Around the edges are various         famous Belgium buildings and sights.

1960     “Il Celostani Spartakiada Praha” I have a pink and blue handkerchief printed with flowers             and these words. I should like to know what they represent.

1968     Please can someone tell me if this hanky commemorates a Festival of some sort. Stitched in          black inside an oval shape are the initials I.F.B.P.W. above them is a small scene of a bridge,           building and trees and the word “London”.

1988     My most recent souvenir hanky this, of the Glasgow Garden Festival, with the words and a           couple of flowers embroidered in one corner.

            I shall be glad to describe any of these special hankies of mine more fully if desired, or take photographs of some of them if you feel they would be of interest to accompany an article for possible inclusion in a future magazine.

            Meantime, I shall carry on hunting. The Festivals and Exhibitions hankies form just a small part of my collection of Souvenir and Commemorative hankies, now numbering almost 2,000.

                        All good wishes,

                                                                                    Brenda Mathews.

            As you can imagine this letter gave me much food for thought. While we have at several of our conventions seen displays of hankies, head scarves, table cloths and ties, it has never crossed my mind to wonder how you would describe them. Or rather how you would describe them sufficiently well, for another collector who has not seen yours, to be able to say, “yes, I have got that one”, or “my Franco-British Exhibition hanky is different from Brenda’s”.

            A first requirement I should think is the measurements of the hanky, although this would probably have to be approximate. A description of the material, cotton or silky material, and method of manufacture, printed, or embroidered. For example “8" square cotton multicoloured printed hanky with embroidered words.........in bottom right corner” would do for a brief basic description.

            An illustration would be ideal, and here my first thought was photocopying which I tried out on an old head scarf (not an exhibition one). I am fortunate in having my own copier and I found you need to experiment. The first one I tried came out black but by moving to the lightest adjustment I was able to get a good copy. I then tried a patterned tea cloth and this came out perfectly on the normal setting.

            On the average copier this does restrict you to items no larger than A4 size, the ideal equipment I would say is one of the modern copiers that could copy a larger than A4 sized object and reduce the image down to say a three or four inch square picture. Photographing is the other option, this is time consuming and expensive. You can get very good results but unfortunately when you try to photocopy coloured photographs it is not always successful.

            Perhaps Brenda could give this some thought, not having a collection of these myself it is difficult for me to lay down guidelines, on how she should list her collection, and the above suggestions in the end may not be practical.

        © Exhibition Study Group 1997