Monday, May 19, 2014

Weekend Finds: WWI French Sweetheart Handkerchief (1917-1918)

Good morning!

How's tricks, kids? I am back again this Monday matin with more weekend finds from the weekend-that-was. I thought to tell you about all the things that I've been up to since last we spoke Friday, but other than estate sales, I was pre-t-t-t-y sedentary. I came down with some kind of stomach/sinus/death flu-type thing on Sunday, nixing my plans to go see the open house of an A-frame to beat the band out in Bellevue, and watched like the entire seventh season of Grey's Anatomy instead. This made me FEEL like I'd accomplished a lot (a lot happened in that season!!), but in fact did not amount up to much. Le sigh. There's always next weekend!

Saturday, my dad and I trekked across the county, from Hermitage to Edmondson Pike to West Meade, ISO goods, and my FAVORITE thing I bought is hands down this WWI French sweetheart handkerchief. Here's me this morning (how's that for real-time blog posting?) holding my proud quarry:

The house was just off Edmondson Pike in Nashville, and I'd been interested in going because of the ornate, over-the-top, filled-to-the-brim dollhouse that featured in the listing. I didn't even want the piece itself, I just wanted to see it in real life...since a childhood visit to the Smithsonian, where I saw "The Doll's House", I've always held a special place for miniatures and dreamy, too-fancy-for-actual-children children's toys. This lady must have been a connoisseur of the same and HOW. The whole place was a carefully curated collection of dainty decorations mixed with artistic whimsy-- a turn-of-the-century bordello-y fringed floor lamp with interchangeable shades that I almost took home, lots of 1800's baby dolls, and large framed watercolors and oil canvases. This frame, leaned up against a sofa in the vaulted-ceiling living room, caught my eye and as things were half price on Saturday, the non-affordable sixty dollar price tag became a more manageable thirty dollars. Like I said, I've been being so good/bad lately about only buying one or two things, but having them be REALLY cool things (as opposed to my old tack of buying 30 small ticket items and passing and pining over one larger ticker item).

And, closer please? Drum roll? (I know it's kind of hard to see in the first picture, I never think of glass reflecting light until it's too late) :

While there's a goodly amount of deterioration in the background silk of the handkerchief, and the embroidery was probably a more vibrant red rather than the pink of its current state, I am IN LOVE with what is going on in the picture. Left, a World War One doughboy outstretches his hands in friendship to the red hatted Marianne, a symbol of French nationalism as recognizable to them as Uncle Sam, in her own country across the Atlantic. Behind them, their respective banners wave, a sun sets on the sea, and you can even make out a tiny Statue of Liberty in its geographically correct place off the coast of New York. The florid patriotic imagery on the part of both nationalities represented here is KILLING. ME.

And yet closer:

Again, I think the coloring has faded some, but when you look at how perfect the stitching is, almost a hundred years later, it's kind of amazing. Do you see the single chevron on the Yank's arm, his epaulets and pockets and gaiters-over-boots? How about Marianne's flowing skirt and billowing sash, and that Gallic, classical nose? The tiny details are incredible, and I am SO GLAD the woman decided to have the handkerchief professionally framed-- without that extra protection in its fragile state, I'm sure there would be hardly anything left of the souvenir today.

I scouted around Ebay and was able to find a number of sweetheart souvenirs from WWI, but none exactly like mine. Take a look at these similar textile tchotchkes the boys brought back over when the war was through...I could seriously spend all day looking up search terms like these:

WWI American Sweethearts Kerchief - Framed
VTG WWI Silk Camp Mills New York Handkerchief US Military

WWI Printed Handkerchief Soldier Sister & Flag To My Sister Camp Merrit NJ

WW1 World War One Needle Work Souvenir of France

Well, that's all the news that's fit to print-- how about you? Did you find anything crazy out at the sales this weekend? What's been something you've dragged home that really beat all? Do you have any WWI militariana in your collection? Let's talk!

Have a great Monday! I will see you back here tomorrow. Take care, til then!


  1. Wow! That's an incredible find! I love those others too.

    1. Thanks, Eartha! I walk by it every day in the office of my house and go "Yep, still love that."

  2. i went to that sale too! i loved that fringed lamp! we also got them to show us the incredible black forest mirror that was behind the sheet in the living room. such a cool sale. i love your handkerchief!

    1. I am still kind of kicking myself I didn't get said lamp. I wanted it to be like black or gold or red instead of white and blue (interchangably). I'm sorry I didn't ask to see the mirror, I bet it was neat!!

  3. AMAZING finds!
    I live near WWI battle fields so I think there will be a lot of events next 4 years.

    1. Can you believe that's ONE HUNDRED years ago? I wonder what people will say about us in 2114.

  4. Wow! That is absolutely stunning! What a true gem and piece of history!


    1. Thanks, Janey! I can't believe it's held up that well over all these years.

  5. Replies
    1. Thanks, Sarah! :D Have you found anything crazy in the mid century antiques-bonanza I've heard that Michigan is?



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