Saturday, February 9, 2013

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: Queen Alexandra’s Handkerchief, 1880

c. 1880
The Victoria & Albert Museum
At Sandringham House, Queen Mary had assembled a collection of odd items which constituted a family museum. In this collection, she added souvenirs, clothing, lace and personal objects which had historically belonged to members of the Royal family.

Queen Mary donated part of this collection of lace to the Victoria & Albert museum. Her donation included this handkerchief of linen, white-work embroidery and lace which had belonged to her mother-in-law Queen Alexandra.

Handkerchiefs such as this one were really not for utilitarian purposes, but were designed to be be carried purely as fashionable accessories and to be given as gifts. These elaborate pieces of linen incorporated the initials of their owner in an ornate monogram—especially if the object was part of a trousseau. White-work embroidery such as is seen here made for some of the most desirable handkerchiefs. White-work was made with such skill that it was reversible, being equally attractive on each side. These handkerchiefs were always trimmed with hand-made lace.

Because it was made for Queen Alexandra (when Princess of Wales), it has the initial A with a crown. Queen Mary’s preservation of such objects allowed for future generations to see the personal objects which were used on a daily basis. 

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