Handkerchiefs & Roses; The Meaning of Colors


This is the first part in a series of posts about beautiful, vintage rose embroidered hankies and printed rose handkerchiefs. We’ll be taking a look at the color of each rose and its symbolism. For example, the ravishing red rose handkerchief, perky pink rose handkerchiefs and luscious lavender rose hankies. Beautifully printed or embroidered roses on handkerchiefs can mean a myriad of different sentiments. Each of the handkerchiefs highlighted in this post, and subsequent posts, are available in my Etsy shop, AllVintateHankies.etsy.com.

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet –William Shakespeare

Let’s begin with this outstanding example of the pink rose bouquet, printed on a large, scalloped handkerchief.

It was one of Burmel’s selections for Handkerchief of the Month in Vogue back in the 1950s.

The pink rose is the oldest of all the roses. Pink roses can be found in centuries-old artwork by the masters. This color rose is also associated with the ‘old garden’ variety rose. When you’re driving past an old Victorian home in the spring or summer, take a look at the grounds. Chances are you’ll see gorgeous pink rose bushes that were lovingly planted in the mid 1800s to early 1900s. That is, if they haven’t been plucked out to make way for ‘new’ landscaping.



If you’re looking for a rose-printed or embroidered handkerchief for yourself or to give as a gift, it’s the perfect choice if you want to convey sentiments of appreciation and gratitude. Pink roses also are meant to show admiration, joyfulness, love, sweetness, grace and elegance.


The light pink rose signifies beauty and grace.



Delicate and soft, the pink rose hankie is an outstanding choice as a lovely gift to say, ‘I appreciate you’, ‘I admire you,’ ‘I’m grateful to you,’ or simply to say, ‘Thank you.’

Take a stroll through all of the marvelous examples of pink printed rose hankies and pink embroidered rose handkerchiefs at my shop on Etsy, AllVintageHankies.etsy.com.


Next post we’ll take a look at the meaning of the lavender rose print and embroidered hanky.







Handkerchief Art: Drawnwork

Picture this:  A woman in the mid-to-late 1800s, dressed in a high-collared, long-sleeved black, satin, full-length dress sitting at her embroidery stand patiently counting threads and painstakingly designing an elaborate handkerchief, like the one here:

SANY0067SANY0071 SANY0068

This outstanding example of handkerchief drawnwork may have taken MONTHS to complete! BREATHTAKING! Isn’t it? This handkerchief is from my collection and it is approximately 120 years old.

One of the pioneers of this type of handkerchief artistry was a woman by the name of Thérèse de Dillmont, 1846 – 1890. She was an Austrian needleworker and writer. She was raised and educated in Vienna and later, moved to France to begin a working relationship with DMC, a thread and embroidery floss company.

One of her greatest successes was the publication of Encyclopedia of Needlework in the late 1800s. The book was translated into numerous languages and distributed to dozens of countries. Below is a excerpt from her book on drawnwork:

‘The above heading comprises every sort of needle-work, to which the drawing out of threads is a preliminary. By sewing over the single threads that remain, and drawing them together in different ways, an infinite variety of patterns can be produced. Many pretty combinations also, can be made of open-work, cross-stitch, and other kinds of embroidery.

Materials suitable for open-work.—For all the coarser stuffs, such as Holbein-linen, Java and linen-canvas and the like, now in such favour for the imitation of old needlework, it will be best to use: Fil à pointer D.M.C, No. 30 and Cordonnet 6 fils D.M.C, Nos. 10 to 20, and for the finer stuffs, such as antique-linen and linen-gauze.


Single three-rowed open-work—This, and the following patterns, are suitable for the headings of hems, and for connecting stripes of embroidery, and are also often used instead of lace, and lace insertion.


Open-work insertion with spiders —The edges are to be herring-boned. In the middle, the so-called spiders are made, over every group of four clusters. The thread that runs out from the spider, passes over two clusters and under one, and then three or four times, over and under the clusters, as in darning, and so back, under the spider, at the place at which it was drawn in, and then on, to the next four strands of thread.’

And there you have it, a little information about how this lovely form of handkerchief art is accomplished.

If you would like to see other drawnwork handkerchiefs, please feel free to visit me at my shop on Etsy, All Vintage Hankies.

Until next time, friends.

Have an elegant day. xo

Exquisite Antique Handkerchiefs

I have a passion for antique handkerchiefs. I think they are exquisite. Period. I can’t think of another word to describe them.

For example, the three photos below show a linen handkerchief with drawn work and embroidery work. The number of hours that had to go into making this piece, by hand, is unfathomable in today’s world. Take a look at the intricacy of the stitches.

Antique Handkerchief c.1800s from AllVintageHankies.etsy.com

Antique Handkerchief c.1800s from AllVintageHankies.etsy.com

Antique Handkerchief c.1800s from AllVintageHankies.etsy.com

Antique Handkerchief c.1800s from AllVintageHankies.etsy.com

Antique Handkerchief c.1800s from AllVintageHankies.etsy.com

Antique Handkerchief c.1800s from AllVintageHankies.etsy.com


I just came up with another word to describe exquisite antique handkerchiefs.

Imagine the woman who created this magnificent piece of art. I envision her during the Victorian or Edwardian era, sitting in a velvet chair near a window for good lighting. Her hair is fashioned into the Victorian curled upsweep. She’s wearing a silk moire gown. Before her is her standing embroidery hoop with this swatch of linen fabric sinched between the wooden hoops. With needle in hand, she pierces the fabric and begins to weave her magic. The result is the fabulous vision above.

I hope I can find some fellow handkerchief enthusiasts who share my passion.

If you love antique and vintage handkerchiefs, take a stroll through my independent shop in Etsy, AllVintageHankies.etsy.com, for a look at some marvelous examples of handkerchiefs from the 1800s through the 1960s and 70s.