Greencastle >> "Think of an occasion, and the hankie was surely there," reads a compelling thought from the website handkerchiefheros.com.

The May exhibit at Allison-Antrim Museum, 365 S. Ridge Ave., will be handkerchiefs.

The hankies in the exhibit, which closes May 28, are from a private collection and date from the turn of the 19th century to the 1960s. Earlier handkerchiefs include white-on-white handmade hankies, which include exquisite pulled and drawn work, fine, hand embroidery, Trapunto, lace insertion, and rolled hems.

Throughout the Victorian period, mourning customs dictated what men and women wore, including hankies. There are two black hankies, one with a variegated black-gray, crocheted edging and an all-black hankie with petite pointe flowers in one corner.

From the late Victorian era into the 1950s, thread companies like J&P and Coats & Clark, and ladies' magazines would publish crochet and tatting pattern books, many of them with edging patterns for handkerchiefs. From the 1930s to '50s, hankies were made with printed designs. During the Depression and the wars, a printed hankie was affordable and brightened an outfit. In the collection is a red, white, and blue WWII printed hankie.

For a short time from the late 1940s into the early '50s, manufacturers made round handkerchiefs. One source says that the shape wasn't popular at the time but, in 2014, it's very collectible. In the collection are two unique round handkerchiefs, imprinted with flowers and bright, vivid colors.


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In the '50s and '60s manufacturers began to machine embroider handkerchiefs to emulate the earlier hand-embroidered hankies. They were sold in packs of three to four hankies with the same design but in different colors.

Ann McCann and Billie Kompa, 1960s designers, created a "signature" line of handkerchiefs. When applying lipstick, women would blot their lips on their hankies. McCann's lipstick hankie is quite unusual, printed with images of four women without lips. The museum is open from noon to 4 p.m. Mondays to Fridays. There is no admission fee but donations are accepted.

For more information, visit www.greencastlemuseum.org or call 597-9325.