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Page history last edited by R.A.Dolman@warwick.ac.uk 9 years, 2 months ago


Handkerchief :


Etymology: Hand + Kerchief (a cloth used to cover one's head, formerly a woman's head-dress) 

A small square of cotton, silk, or other material carried on the person and used for wiping the nose, hands, etc.
Formerly also one worn around the neck (neckerchief). (
(Although defined as a "small square of cotton", handkerchiefs in the Eighteenth century have also been noted as large squares of material, folded or cut and sewn into a triangle, and worn around the neck.)

Associated Words/Accessories: Neckerchief, Ruff, Band, Fichu, Buffon, Cravat, Stock, Bandanna




Succeeding fashionable accessories such as ruffs and bands, the neckerchief - improperly known as the handkerchief (or hand-neckerchief) - was a large piece of material generally used to cover the bosom and shoulders. Handkerchiefs had previously been carried by women, but it was only in the Eighteenth Century that handkerchiefs were officially understood to function as a piece of women's clothing. Typically used by women, handkerchiefs were thus quite often edged with lace or decorated with fine needlework. 

As depicted in the Plate on the right, the first instances of the handkerchief were worn double; the fabric was folded over the shoulders and lower neckline, the double layering seemingly accentuating the embellishment on the handkerchief's edging.  [Image 1]



While fashions in Eighteenth-Century England saw handkerchiefs used in this manner, it is apparent that the fashions in other nations were rather different. During her journey to Russia, Elizabeth Dimsdale observed the trends of Russian women:


'Russia women are partial to handkerchiefs, it is the old Russian headress; middling people and servants wore them when drest, they pin it on a large piece of pasteboard. Russian ladies of the 1st rank wear only a handkerchief on their heads like a turban.' (24)



Indeed, the handkerchief was an important accessory for women, as the item was used to conceal part of the female body. Typical reasons for its significance were based on social propriety; a woman should conceal her body in public, the virtue of a woman was linked to her appearance and the use of a handkerchief to cover one's bosom reinforced the sense of purity within a woman. In addition to reasons of social propriety, however, the handkerchief was also an important factor in the appearance of the woman. The handkerchief was worn in conjunction with a number of other items of clothing, all of which were utilised to create an 'ideal' aesthetic of the Eighteenth-Century woman. 

During a piece concerning masquerades, Eliza Haywood's The Female Spectator Vol 1. talks of the different pieces of clothing that make up a woman's attire, and the ways in which clothing is used to conceal or accentuate particulars of the female body:


'She has one motive, as I have been told by the men, which, notwithstanding, she would be unwilling to acknowledge, for her preferring masquerades to all other public diversions; which is, that she never had a handsome thing said to her out of a vizard; - nature, it is certain, having not been curious in the formation of her features, and that cruel enemy to beauty, the small-pox, has rendered them yet less delicate; but with the help of new stays once a month, and strait lacing, she has a tolerable shape; but then her neck suffers for it, and confesses in scarlet blushes, the constraint put upon her waist: - this misfortune, however, she conceals under a handkerchief or pelerine, and high tucker, and never trips it in the walks without some share of admiration from those who follow, and are not nimble enough to overtake her.' (240)




               [Image 2]                                         [Image 3]                                             [Image 4]                                        [Image 5]                                             [Image 6]                         


Handkerchiefs were worn in a number of different ways. In earlier images of women wearing handkerchiefs in the Eighteenth Century, it appears that the handkerchief was seemingly tucked in below the dress, or fastened at the bosom. As well women wearing their handkerchiefs 'double', it is apparent that to wear a "crossed" handkerchief was also common (66). On the other hand, some handkerchiefs were simply knotted to keep them in place, and to bring the material together in the centre of a woman's neckline. Due to the general function of covering the woman's bosom, the handkerchief has also been referred to as a "modesty piece", according to Jack Cassin-Scott's The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Costume and Fashion 1550-1920 (59). Throughout the Eighteenth Century, references to the handkerchief and neckerchief were somewhat interchangeable; some still associated the item with the buffon also. In fact, some still women were said to still wear their handkerchiefs in a "buffon style" (79).



'Rachel Leeds Kerr', and Oil Painting by Charles Willson Peale in 1790. [Image 7]
Rachel Leeds Kerr was wife of Lieutenant David Kerr. In Peale's painting, it is said that "Her elaborate headdress, embroidered shawl, fan, and handkerchief bespeak family comforts and nominal wealth".


Handkerchiefs had a number of different purposes in the Eighteenth Century, particularly in relation to each sex. The predominant usage of handkerchiefs in the Eighteenth Century was as a cover for the exposed female chest, yet there were various ways in which the handkerchief was utilised by the male population also. While men generally used the small cuts of material as something on which to wipe their hands or nose, particular male crowds utilised handkerchiefs as 'Bandannas', an idea originating in Bengal. As Bandannas, handkerchiefs were sold as small neck-cloths, used predominantly by sailors and agricultural communities. 

While the usages of handkerchiefs greatly varied within different areas of society, handkerchiefs were commonly found in the pockets of both men and women, alongside other daily necessities such as money and objects as vanity - mirrors, combs, scent-boxes - and possibly a snuff-box.



Handkerchiefs were often embellished with embroidery and edged in lace.  It is understood that women of all classes participated in needlework and embroidery; this was an acceptable and appropriate way for women to pass their leisure time. Handkerchiefs served many functions in the Eighteenth Century, such as practical purposes, reinforcing a particular aesthetic, as well as a way for women to pass the time. It is also unsurprising that the craft in relation to a handkerchief was associated with women; the fine detail and embroidery of a handkerchief is evidence of a delicate woman's touch.


Although embroidery was linked with a leisure activity for women, the weaving of handkerchiefs was associated with the poor. A woman could make up to twelve handkerchiefs a day; those made for the neck would be sold at a range of prices, from Two Shillings and Sixpence to Thirty Shillings, and upwards.


Handkerchiefs were first considered a luxury in the Eighteenth Century and were thus more associated with the upper classes. However, handkerchiefs were owned by people from all different social classes, and one's handkerchief came to reflect one's social status. For example, upper class women in particular were associated with white handkerchiefs; women of lower classes would most likely own handkerchiefs that were darker in colour, thus hiding any dirt or discolouration. 



A number of materials were used for handkerchiefs, most commonly silk, linen and later cotton. However, women also wore chiffon handkerchiefs - see Image 2.




On the right is an example of a linen handkerchief produced approximately during the fourth quarter of the Eighteenth Century. The design on the edges of the handkerchief depicts a man fishing, one is being fed to a cormorant (a large diving bird). The creator is unknown.

A number of different embroidery techniques have been used to produce the narrative imagery including drawnwork, hemstitching at the inner edge, and whitework embroidery. 

This linen handkerchief to the right is an example of what women would traditionally carry with them; the embroidery is delicate and the white materials used are rather feminine in comparison to the darker, more colourful handkerchiefs seemingly carried by men. [Image 8]











http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/i/indian-textiles-introduction/The Eighteenth Century saw the rise of India as the greatest exporter of textiles, and this continued into the Nineteenth Century. A popular way to sell material was as 'piece goods'. These rather short pieces of material were suitable for making different items of clothing, particularly handkerchiefs. 


An example of painted and dyed cotton prepared for trade in the British Market around the beginning of the 18th Century. [Image 9]










Design, Snuff and Perfumes 


By the Eighteenth Century, the handkerchief was an indispensable accessory, used by both men and women in different forms. Although generally understood to be a 'neckerchief' and to be a significant part of woman's attire, the use of handkerchiefs in the sense that is recognised by today's society - used to wipe one's nose, for example - increased as the popularity for snuff-taking grew. Within The Tatler, the handkerchief is connected to the pastime of Snuff, as "Bickerstaff" (actually Richard Steele or a number of other contributors) recommends to his customers, (his readers, supposedly), Mr Charles Lillie:


Tuesday November 29th - Thursday December 1st 1709:

'I...have, for the Service of my Friends who frequent this Shop, used the Force of Magical Powers to add Value to his Wares. By my Knowledged in the Secret Operations of Nature, I have made his Powers, Perfumed and Plain, have the same Effect as Love-Powder, to all who are too much enamoured to do more than dress at their Mistresses. His Amber Orange-Flower, Musk, and Civet-Violet, put only into an Handkerchief, shall have the same Effect towards an honourable Lover's Wishes, as if he had been wrapped in his Mother's Smock. Wash-Balls Perfumed, Camphired, and Plain, shall restore Complexions to that Degree, that a Country Fox-Hunter who uses them, shall in a Week's Time look with a courtly and affable Paleness, without using the Bagnio or Cupping. N.B. Mr Lillie has Snuffs, Barcelona, Sevil, Musty, Plain, and Spanish, which may be taken by a young Beginner without Danger of sneezing.'  (159)


In the above section, it is Snuff that is being recommended to the customers. Indeed, even those who are involved in the business of snuff-taking are being welcomed and encouraged into the popular hobby on the premise that Mr Charles Lillie's products "may be taken by a young Beginner without Danger of sneezing".


The growing popularity of snuff in society led to people needing handkerchiefs to wipe the excess snuff and snuff-marks from their faces. As a result of snuff-taking, printed patterns became more popular for handkerchiefs; in comparison to the delicate embellishment of earlier handkerchiefs, printed patterns allowed for a greater camouflage against snuff stains. On the right is an example of a printed handkerchief by Robert Spofforth. The handkerchief is made from silk and the print has been produced by a metal engraved plate.   [Image 10] 


In the following edition of The Tatler, 'Bickerstaff' refers back to his recommendation of Mr Charles Lillie, and the success such a recommendation had brought:


Dated from his own apartment, December 5th 1709:

'There is nothing gives a Man greater Satisfaction, than the Sense of having dispatched a great deal of Business, especially when it turns to the Publick Emolument. I have much Pleasure of this Kind upon my Spirits at present, occasioned by the Fatigue of Affairs which I went through last Saturday...

I had before directed Charles Lillie of Beaufort-Buildings to prepare a great Bundle of blank Licences in the following Words:
"You are hereby required to permit the Bearer of this Cane to pass and repass through the Streets and Suburbs of London, or any Place within Ten Miles of it, without Lett or Molestation; provided that he does not walk with it under his Arm, brandish it in the Air, or hang it on a Button: In which Case it shall be forfeited; and I hereby declare it forfeited, to any one who shall think it safe to take it from him 

Isaac Bickerstaff"


The same Form, differing only in the Proviso's, will serve for a Perspective, Snuff-Box, or Perfumed Handkerchief.'


Within the above section by 'Bickerstaff', therefore, it is clear that handkerchiefs were used both in connection to snuff-taking, but also as 'Perfumed Handkerchiefs'. As suggested in both editions quoted above, handkerchiefs were used to hold smelling agents, thus becoming perfumed. Not only were handkerchiefs usually a decorated, embellished item for men and women, therefore, there is the strong possibility that handkerchiefs were attractive in terms of their smell also.

Handkerchiefs were evidently used for a number of practical functions, and the development in handkerchief design clearly reflects this. However, whilst there are various ways in which the handkerchief was utilised throughout the Eighteenth Century, it is important to remember that, arguably first and foremost, the handkerchief was most significant in this period for its use as an item of clothing.



Handkerchiefs: Fashion and Politics


While different designs are common in reference to handkerchiefs used by men and women, these differences have also been analysed in terms of political alignment. Indeed, although plain and elegant, the waving of a simple white handkerchief has been considered a proclamation of "loyalty, support, or allegiance", according to Tiffany Potter's Woman, Popular Culture, and the Eighteenth Century (96), and uses the example of George II's arrival in Ipswich, mentioned in The Daily Gazetteer: 


[Image 11]


"the joyful Acclamations of a numerous Crowd of People, and was pleased to take Notice of the Ladies, who shak'd their Handkerchiefs at some Windows in the Market Place, by waving his Hat."

[Image 12]

As considered by Potter, the handkerchiefs are used as a symbol of support, of loyalty. The women used their handkerchiefs to show their loyalty to the King of England. 
It can be deduced, in this instance, that the women were using pocket handkerchiefs to wave and show their support; it would have been most improper to use an item of their dress to do so.


During scenes of political campaign, women were largely noted for waving their white handkerchiefs; they showed their support in this way, and many took note of their actions. Women have often been noted to wave their white handkerchiefs alongside blue ribbons or flags, using them to express their own politic allegiances. However, while clearly present within popular politics, women were nothing more than part of the crowd at such events. Indeed, it is important to note that the women present would also only be those considered 'respectable' ladies, those of the elite and aristocracy. 



While white handkerchiefs have largely been identified with women supporters of politics, using them to show their support, printed or coloured handkerchiefs were said to be "more purposefully political", according to Tiffany Potter (98). Although the alignment of political parties with particular colours was not a definite practice, Potter goes on to note the following general alignments:


WHIGS: Orange
(Supposedly in the commemoration of William of Orange and the Glorious Revolution.)


TORIES: "True Blue"


Their emblem was a white rose. 



Potter talks of the 1790s when Irish Nationalism was associated with the colour green. Both men and women carried green handkerchiefs, and women were said to have worn green both openly and intimately; for example, women supposedly wore green-striped handkerchiefs, garters, petticoats and bonnets. The green stripes on their handkerchief (as part of their dress) would have stood in a prominent place on their body, thus showing their clear support for the Irish Nationalists. 

Handkerchiefs and Crime

Upon completion, handkerchiefs would be marked so as to prevent cases of fraud. 


Stretching from the very beginning of the Eighteenth Century to the very end, handkerchiefs were a main attraction for thieves and pickpockets, particularly those that were made of silk or were laced. In fact, there are thousands of instances in which handkerchiefs were stolen. Handkerchiefs were, however, also sometimes an element in more serious crimes such as the rape of Ann Burt on 12th October 1715. 


In regards to the Old Bailey trials, such as the Ann Burt case, Chloe Wigston Smith observed that "More often than not...women encountered men in the street, invited them to drink or to a lodging house, and then stole purses, money, rings, garments, snuffboxes, and handkerchiefs, among other items." (Pg 97)


Handkerchiefs in 18th Century Literature


Handkerchiefs were commonly (1) used to cover a woman's chest and (2) an object of desire for thieves. 

It is therefore not surprising that when discussed in literature of the Eighteenth Century, handkerchiefs were associated either with female sexuality and virtue, or referred to as a target for thieves. 


Although these themes were common in regards to the uses and associations of handkerchiefs, it is important to note that such themes were ongoing and in fact were concerns within literature prior to this era. Perhaps the greatest instance of a handkerchief within English literature is William Shakespeare's Othellofirst performed in 1604. The handkerchief in the play is a token given by Othello to his wife Desdemona. Finding it in the hands of another man, Othello reads the transferring of the handkerchief as the betrayal of Desdemona; he believes her unfaithful, that she has been sexually promiscuous. Within the play, there are also references to Iago's desire to obtain the handkerchief; he desires to steal it for his own purposes. 

Although produced before the Eighteenth Century, it is important to note Othello as the handkerchief is paramount to the action of Shakespeare's tragedy, and the play explores both the handkerchief as representative of female sexuality, as well as the object of desire; the handkerchief is frequently something that is wanted by someone else.


Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure, John Cleland (1748)


Described in the 'Explanatory Notes' of Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure, Cleland's novel refers to a woman's handkerchief as "fabric draped around a woman's neck and shoulders, and knotted in front of a breast knot."

 On a number of occasions, the woman's handkerchief is referred to at the beginning of a sexual encounter, usually encounters that have been witnessed or personally participated in by the novel's protagonist, Fanny Hill. Each time the handkerchief is removed from a woman's dress, it becomes an element of seduction between man and woman; the absence of the handkerchief allows for men to indulge in the female body, particularly her breasts. Indeed, when mentioned, the handkerchief is a small element within a usually long, complex sentence filled with different moments of seduction and emotion. 

The everyday use of the handkerchief allows a woman to retain her virtue; the material ensures that a woman's body is protected from the male gaze. Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure, however, uses this in the reverse. Cleland mentions the handkerchief only when women are already engaging in sexual activity, generally with a male client. With the removal of a woman's handkerchief, therefore, comes the general understanding that the woman's virtue - her virginity - has, or will be, removed also. 










(Images from Vol I and Vol II of Cleland's Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure, presenting a number of instances in which women are without handkerchiefs and are sexually liberal.
[Image 13] [Image 14]
It is interesting to observe that there are women in [Image 15] and [Image 16] that are
wearing handkerchiefs, however they do not appear sexually active within the scene. A handkerchief is used to cover the female body; when uncovered, the women are open to sexual encounters.)









PAGE 10 - Fanny's first sexual encounter

"To slip over minutes of no importance to the main of my story, I pass the interval to bed-time, in which I was more and more pleased with the views that open'd to me of an easy service under these good people: and after supper, being shew'd up to bed, Miss Phoebe, who observed a kind of modest reluctance in me to strip, and go to bed in my shift before her, now the maind was withdrawn, came up to me, and beginning with unpinning my handkerchief, and gown, soon encouraged me to go on undressing myself, and, still blushing at now seeing myself naked to my shift, I hurried to get under the bed-cloaths, out of sight."


PAGE 18 - Fanny's first meeting with a male client (a failed encounter)

"But long I was not suffered to remain in this state of stupefaction: the monster squatted down by me on the settee, and without farther ceremony, or preamble, flings his arms about my neck, and drawing me pretty forcibly towards him, oblig'd me to receive, in spit of my struggles to disengage from him, his pestilential kisses, which quite overcame me: finding me then next to senseless and unresisting, he tears off my neck-handerkchief, and laid all open there to his eyes, and hands; still I endur'd all without flinching, till embolden'd by my sufferance, and silence, (for I had not the power to speak, or cry out) he attempted to lay me down on the settee, and I felt this hand on the lower part of my naked thighs, which were cross'd, and which he endeavour'd to unlock."


PAGE 39 - Fanny's first sexual encounter with Charles

"Charles had just slipp'd the bolt of the door, and running, caught me in his arms, and lifting me from the ground, with his lips glew'd to mine, bore me trembling, panting, dying with soft fears and tender wishes, to the bed; where his impatience would not suffer him to undress me more than just unpinning my handkerchief, and gown, and unlacing my stays."


PAGE 60 - Here, a different handkerchief is being use. A handkerchief is used by a male character (Mr H) in order to begin the process of seduction. 

"The gentleman, however, no novice in affairs of this sort, drew near me, and under the pretence of comforting me, first with his handkerchief dried my tears as they rand down my cheeks: presently, he ventur'd to kiss me: on my part neither resistance nor compliance; I sat stock-still; and now looking on myself as bought by the payment that had been transacted before me, I did not care what became of my wretched body: and wanting life, spirits, or courage to oppose the least struggle, even that of the modesty of my sex, I suffer'd tamely whatever the gentleman pleased, who proceeding insensibly from freedom to freedom, insinuated his hand between my handkerchief and bosom, which he handled at discretion:"


PAGE 68 - Fanny witnesses Mr H's affair

"upon which a push of no mighty violence serv'd to give her a very easy fall, and my gentleman having got up his hands to the strong-hold of her vartue, she no doubt thought it was time to give up the argument, and that all further defence would be vain; and he throwing her petticoats over her face, which was now as red as scarlet, discover'd a pair of stout, plump, substantial thighs, and tolerably white; he mounted them round his hips, and coming out with his drawn weapon, stuck it in the cloven spot, where he seem'd to find a less difficult entrance than perhaps he had flatter'd himself with (for by the way this Blouze had left her place in the country for a bastard) and indeed all his motions shew'd he was lodg'd pretty much at large. After he had done, his dearee gets up, drops her petticoats down, and smooths her apron and handkerchief. Mr. H-- look'd a little silly, and taking some money, gave it her, with an air indifferent enough, biding her be a good girl, and say nothing."


PAGE 71 - Fanny's seduction of William

"I bid him come towards me, and give me his letter, at the same time throwing down carelessly, a book I had in my hands. He colour'd, and came within reach of delivering me the letter, which he held out aukwardly enough for me to take, with his eyes rivetted on my bosom, which was, through the design'd disorder of my handkerchief, sufficiently bare, and rather shaded than hid."


PAGE 76 - Fanny's encounter with William

"When our mutual trance was a little over, and the young fellow had withdrawn that delicious stretcher, with which he had most plentifully drown'd all thoughts of revenge, in the sense of actual pleasure, the widen'd wounded passage refunded a stream of pearly liquids, which flow'd down my thighs, mix'd with streaks of blood the marks of the ravage of that monstrous machine of his, which had now triumph'd over a kind of second maiden-head: I stole, however, my handkerchief to those parts, and wip'd them dry as I could, whilst he was re-adjusting and buttoning up."


PAGE 112 - Fanny's initiation in Mrs Cole's house

"Kisses however were snatch'd at times, or where a handkerchief round the neck interpos'd its feeble barrier, it was not extremely respected: the hands of the men went to work with their usual petulance, till the provocations on both sides rose to such a pitch, that my partiuclar's proposal for beginning the country-dances was receiv'd with instant assent: for, as he laughingly added, he fancied the instruments were in tune."


PAGE 140 - Fanny's sexual encounter with a sailor

"Here, scarce allowing himself patience till the drawer brought in the wine call'd for, he fell directly on board me: when untucking my handkerchief, and giving me a smacking buss, he laid my breasts bare at once, which he handled with that keenness of gust that abridges a ceremonial ever more tiresome than pleasing on such pressing occasions; and now hurrying towards the main-point, we found no conveniency for our purpose; two or three disabled chairs, we found no ricketty table composing the whole furniture of the room."




A Harlot's Progress, William Hogarth (1731-2)


Hogarth's A Harlot's Progress reflects the life of prostitute Moll Hackabout through a series of six Plates. Hogarth used this series in order to provide his audiences with "a negative example" of their own conduct. Each Plate shows Moll's deteriorating status, both socially and physically, as her body succumbs to venereal disease. 



In Plate VI, Hogarth presents those closest to Moll surrounding her coffin, but instead of all being emotionally affected by Moll's death, each group within the Plate suggests some sort of corruption. (For example, on the left of the Plate, the clergyman is supposed to "give a religious tone to the tone" in fact has his hand on the girl next sitting next to him, his hand hidden by the girl's mourning hat). 


"Behind the bawd, an undertaker oversolicitously assists a girl with her glove; she postures as if in grief as she steals his handkerchief."

 Whilst pretending to mourn the loss of Moll, the girl takes the opportunity to steal the undertaker's handkerchief. It can be suggested that the girl uses her femininity and supposed vulnerability in order to get to the man's handkerchief. By including the theft of the handkerchief within his series that was intended to provide a "negative example" of society at the time, it is apparent that this was a common element of corruption within the Eighteenth Century.

In Hogarth's Plate Series, there is thus a combination between the themes of sexuality and theft in relation to the handkerchief referred to in the image. Indeed, a woman uses her femininity and sexuality to appear vulnerable in order to achieve success in stealing the undertaker's handkerchief. 








  • Cleland, John. Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure. London. Vol I. and Vol II. 1766. Web. Historical Texts. 25 Feb. 2015. 
  • Cleland, John. Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure. United Kingdom: Oxford World's Classic, Oxford University Press. 1999. Print. 

A very useful text in learning about the ways in which handkerchiefs are associated with virtue, and the lack of a handkerchief signifies the lack of chastity and purity.


  • Dimsdale, Elizabeth. The Journal of Elizabeth, 3rd Wife of the First Baron Dimsdale, on a journey to Russia in the Year 1781. 1781. Bodleian Library. Web. Defining Gender. 13 Mar. 2015. 

Helpful in learning about the different ways in which handkerchiefs were used in different nations, as well as observing how others saw the difference. Handkerchiefs were something that women paid attention to, in particular the different ways they were worn and regarded. 


  • Haywood, Eliza. The Female Spectator. Volume 1, Book 5. London. Fifth Edition. 1744-1746. Web. Eighteenth Century Journals. 13 Mar. 2015.

An interesting find about the ways different pieces of clothing are used in conjunction with one another.

  • Hogarth, William. A Harlot's Progress. London. 1731-1732. Web. Historical Texts. 26 Feb. 2015. 


  • "Letter". The Daily Gazetteer. London. (No. 496) 25 Jan. 1737. Web. ProQuest British Periodicals. 12 Mar. 2015.


  • Steele, Richard (Bickerstaff, Isaac). The Tatler. London. Issue 102. 29 Nov. 1709 - 1 Dec. 1709. Web. Eighteenth Century Journals. 13 Mar. 2015.
  • Steele, Richard (Bickerstaff, Isaac). The Tatler. London. Issue 103. 3 Dec. 1709 - 6 Dec. 1709. Web. Eighteenth Century Journals. 13 Mar. 2015.


  • Strutt, Joseph. A Complete View of the Dress and Habits of the People of England, from the Establishment of the Saxons in Britain to the Present Time. London. 1796-1799. Web. Historical Texts. 16 Oct. 2014. 

Although the information was scarce, the source was helpful in placing the handkerchief within a timeline of clothing pieces. The source would be well utilised in relation to understanding clothing in the Eighteenth Century more broadly. 


  • Unknown. The Case of the Poor People Employed in Weaving Gause for Hoods, Scarfs, Neck-Handkerchiefs, and in Weaving Silk-Handkerchiefs. London. 1712. Web. Historical Texts. 16 Oct. 2014.

This source gave me insight into the manufacturing of handkerchiefs and the prices at which they were sold. The source was helpful in terms of understanding handkerchiefs as an item of trade.  





  • Cassin-Scott, Jack. The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Costume and Fashion 1550-1920. London: Blandford Press. 1986. Print.


This source was very useful in terms of finding images of the handkerchief, observing the different ways in which the handkerchief sat on a woman's dress, and also a distinction between the different materials used for handkerchiefs and how they looked different when worn in similar styles. 
The source also provided more understanding of how handkerchiefs were referred to by a number of different terms, including "modesty piece", and gave insight into the development from buffons to handkerchiefs. 


  • Hoskin, Dawn. Considerations on a Handkerchief. 16 Dec. 2013. Victoria and Albert Museum. Web. Victoria and Albert Museum. 16 Oct. 2015.


  • Potter, Tiffany. Woman, Popular Culture, and Eighteenth Century. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2012. Print.

This source was filled with information about the use of different coloured handkerchiefs for different purposes, and presented a political association with handkerchiefs, a new way in which to consider handkerchiefs and their daily use. The source was also helpful in reinforcing the association of white handkerchiefs with women rather than men.


  • Unknown. Introduction to Indian Textiles. Victoria and Albert Museum. Web. Victoria and Albert Museum. 26 Feb. 2015.


  • Wigston Smith, Chloe. Women, Work and Clothes in the Eighteenth-Century Novel. United States of America: Cambridge University Press, 2013. Print. 





  • Image 1: Strutt, Joseph. A Complete view of the dress and habits of the people of England, from the establishment of the Saxons in Britain to the present time. London. 1796-1799. Engraving, Plate CXLIII. Historical Texts. Web. 16 Oct. 2014.


  • Image 2: Cassin-Scott, Jack. The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Costume and Fashion 1550-1920. London: Blandford Press. 1986. Print. Page 65.


  • Image 3: Cassin-Scott, Jack. The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Costume and Fashion 1550-1920. London: Blandford Press. 1986. Print. Page 66.


  • Image 4: Cassin-Scott, Jack. The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Costume and Fashion 1550-1920. London: Blandford Press. 1986. Print. Page 76.


  • Image 5: Cassin-Scott, Jack. The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Costume and Fashion 1550-1920. London: Blandford Press. 1986. Print. Page 75.


  • Image 6: Cassin-Scott, Jack. The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Costume and Fashion 1550-1920. London: Blandford Press. 1986. Print. Page 79.


  • Image 7: Willson Peale, Charles. Rachel Leeds Kerr. 1790. Photograph. Dallas Museum of Art. Artstor. Web. 3 Feb. 2015.


  • Image 8: Unknown. Handkerchief. Fourth Quarter of 18th Century. Photograph. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Artstor. Web. 25 Feb. 2015.


  • Image 9: Unknown. Introduction to Indian Textiles. Victoria and Albert Museum. Web. Victoria and Albert Museum. 26 Feb. 2015.


  • Image 10:  Spofforth, Robert. Handkerchief. England. 1701. Photograph. British Galleries. Collections. Web. 7 Jan. 2015.


  • Image 11: "Letter". The Daily Gazetteer. London. (No. 496) 25 Jan. 1737. Web. ProQuest British Periodicals. 12 Mar. 2015.


  • Image 12: "Letter". The Daily Gazetteer. London. (No. 496) 25 Jan. 1737. Web. ProQuest British Periodicals. 12 Mar. 2015.


  • Image 13:  Cleland, John. Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure. London. Vol I. Image 36. 1766. Web. Historical Texts. 25 Feb. 2015. 


  • Image 14: Cleland, John. Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure. London. Vol I. Image 57. 1766. Web. Historical Texts. 25 Feb. 2015. 


  • Image 15: Cleland, John. Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure. London. Vol I. and Vol II. 1766. Web. Historical Texts. 25 Feb. 2015. 


  • Image 16: Cleland, John. Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure. London. Vol I. and Vol II. 1766. Web. Historical Texts. 25 Feb. 2015. 



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