B.T. – Before Tissues


Once upon a time ladies carried a lace handkerchief and gentleman had a fancy one tucked in their breast pocket.  Over time handkerchiefs evolved into a simple cotton square which everyone carried.  When I was a child you did not leave home without a clean hanky tucked in the pocket of your dress or trousers.  Handkerchiefs were as much a part of your wardrobe as your underwear and were usually stored in the top drawer along with the rest of your underwear.

When tissues became the norm there was no longer a need to store them.  It was a simple matter of having a box in a convenient location.  Quite often, it could be several locations – a box in the bedroom as well as the bathroom and living room as well as the car.

There is a renewed awareness of the environmental cost of disposable items and this is seeing more people return to using reuseable products and this includes the use of handkerchiefs.  This has led to the inevitable question of, “How and where do you store you handkerchiefs?”

2017-04-10 01

I keep my handkerchiefs in the small drawer on the left-hand side of my dressing table.

2017-04-10 02

Here they are stacked in 2 small piles.  I have about 15 handkerchiefs.

Although I do not use it, I have a fabric handkerchief bag which belonged to my grandmother and is close to 100 years old.  This is essentially an envelope and was used to ensure that the handkerchiefs stayed together and were easy to locate.

2017-04-10 03

The bag is made from fine cotton fabric and measures approximately 22cm x 22cm.  It features white on white embroidery and the photo below shows a close-up.

2017-04-10 04

The final view shows the bag with the flap opened.


I find it interesting that there are people who have grown up in a world of tissues (and other disposable products) who have no previous experience of how to store the reuseable version.

Perhaps there is a whole new market for handkerchief bags awaiting an enterprising individual.

Do you use handkerchiefs?  How do you store them?

6 thoughts on “B.T. – Before Tissues

  1. I had forgotten that handkerchief bag! If you look closely in the last photo you will see your grandmother’s name marked with marking ink. That would have been when she was nursing at RBH in 1924-28! Good lasting marking ink!

  2. I love handkerchiefs – have a lot of them. Having said that I also use tissues – something my doctor many years ago said about spreading germs when you have a cold – but only use them for that. I collected my mum’s beautiful white fine linen crocheted (by hand) hankies when she died too, my most treasured ones. I also have a blue lacy one that was given to me to carry on my wedding day and one given to me by my best friend when we both turned sixteen – I’m seventy one now. Pam

  3. I was brought up using tissues or toilet roll and still do. If we were to use proper hankerchieves, we would need boxes in different rooms and spares for the cold season. That is far too many to contemplate and then the washing and ironing of them afterwards.
    Here in the UK we are told to “Catch it, Bin it, Kill it” germs in the cold and flu season. For me I see using hankerchieves as “Catch it, Breed it, Spread it”
    I see what you say about using hankerchieves but for me I will stick to the paper tissues.
    A great post all the same.


  4. I grew up with both! Dad always had one drawer for hankies, and one for socks and undies (at least.. I know he has and had two drawers and they were for these items). I’ve long ironed said hankies.

    In my home, I have metal lidded tins and similar (reuse!) in convenient locations. 3 years living with someone, and he almost solely used those hankies as I had them in quantities rivaling tissues AND in locations we’d want them (bedside and sofa side and desk). Interestingly, new home, not used a hanky YET (no allergies, no carpet?). I use my rag bag a lot still tho!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s