Handkerchiefs were once very precious, decorative items for carrying in the hand and showing off fine fingers - certainly not for sneezing into - or throwing away after use. We know from court rolls that the price of (often stolen) handkercherchiefs could be around £2 - a considerable amount in the seventeenth century. Jane Austin talks of paying ten shillings for a handkerchief in her time, and it would have had less lace than the one shown here. This one, dating from around 1660, must surely have been a special gift to a cherished lover or spouse - perhaps even a betrothal gift. I particulary enjoy seeing the construction and piecing of the 4 needle-lace worked borders around a central panel, also of needle-lace, depicting a courting couple before a stately house surrounded by a field rich with over-sized flowers and fruit. You might like to ask yourself if those 4 borders were worked by the same hand; and whether they might have been recycled from one or more larger pieces? Or trimmed to fit? It is never straightforward, is it?
This image is copyright and shown to you courtesy of Sampson Horne Antiques and you can visit them by clicking here.