No place listed [England]: No maker listed, No date [c. 1898]. Ephemera no binding. [HISTORICAL TEXTILE]. 21 ½” x 23”; [silk and cotton] woven handkerchief with machine sewn hem; printed in black on white fabric, 4 portraits: central portrait of William Ewart Gladstone above which is his wife, “Mrs. Gladstone”, to the bottom left, “Father, Sir John Gladstone”, and to the bottom right, “Mother, Lady Gladstone”; his accomplishments listed under his portrait and a poem by Hemans under the black border; creases and age toning of the fabric, small discoloration to the upper left within the border (perhaps from an old price tag); very good plus. Not recorded. Very good +. Item #1177
Printed textiles such as handkerchiefs or bandanas were popular forms of souvenirs, especially in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Many of these were "event handkerchiefs or commemorative kerchiefs". (Clark, NY History, Vol 36, No.2). Inexpensively produced by block or roller printing on a variety of fabric, they could be easily sold by walking vendors, at stands, or in souvenir shops. William Gladstone (1809-1898) began his political career at the age of 23 and remained in British politics for 60 years, including 4 terms as Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1852-1855. As a statesman, he opposed emancipation of slaves (his father was a large slave holder) and supported the American Confederacy in its attempt to leave the Union. Historian Walter L. Arnstein concludes in his book, Britain Yesterday and Today: 1832 To The Present (6th ed 1992), pg. 125, “Notable as the Gladstonian reforms had been, they had almost all remained within the 19th-century Liberal tradition of gradually removing the religious, economic and political barriers that prevented men of varied creeds and classes from exercising their individual talents in order to improve themselves and their society. As the third quarter of the century drew to a close, the essential bastions of Victorianism still held firm: respectability; a government of aristocrats and gentlemen now influenced not only by middle-class merchants and manufacturers but also by industrious working people: a prosperity that seemed to rest largely on the tenets of laissez-faire economics; and a Britannia that ruled the waves and many a dominion beyond”.