I found these Liberty handkerchiefs at Mary's Living & Giving shop in Ealing. Their folded fabulousness quite nearly sings, "everything old is new again." For decades, squares of fancy fabric like this have served as sneeze guards, sun protectors, nose wipers and more. Hankies have been flirty props for pulling and when soaked in perfume, acted to mask the odors emanating from poor public sanitation. Shakespeare's Iago hatched a hankie-based scheme to dupe ole Othello into offing himself and his sinless Desdemona. WWII pilots carried hankies printed with maps to help them escape danger if shot down behind enemy lines. Hankie history is rich (cotton) indeed. But in 1924 when Kimberly-Clark introduced the Kleenex as an aid to removing cold cream, hankies everywhere must have quivered. Within a few years the company was inundated with letters from customers reporting that they were happily using Kleenex as disposable hankies. And with that, the fabric accessory began its journey toward obsolete oblivion. Pop to the present, and today the sustainability movement ensures that the forgotten handkerchief is environmentally correct. My husband wasn't a believer when I pushed a hankie into his perspiring palm one hot day, but he's changed his tune. In the heat of summer on a muggy train, hankies are delightful pocket luxuries. Dab your brow and take pleasure in the fact that sweat can be stylish. I'm keeping the hankie with the white trim, but the rest belong to the husband. The lot cost £9.
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