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Luncheon - A History of Handkerchiefs

  • San Francisco Italian Athletic Club 1630 Stockton Street San Francisco, CA, 94133 United States (map)

Ann Mahony

The Amazing Handkerchief – Eyewitness to History

The handkerchief has been with us in large and small moments of life – wrapping a child’s cut finger, catching a bride’s tears of joy, waving bon voyage from an ocean liner, and worn over a soldier’s heart into battle.

Once reserved for nobility and listed in the dowries of kings, handkerchiefs have turned plot lines in Shakespearian plays, and were even distributed by Martha Washington for the first presidential election. Their size and versatility made them the perfect souvenir. From the Paris Exposition of 1900 to the 1939 New York World’s Fair, handkerchiefs carried images of architecture, amusements and adventures to share and remember. Many were passed to future generations, along with the stories and memories they carried, and this presentation will showcase a variety of topics, including handkerchiefs from WWI and WWII. Our speaker Ann Mahony claims she’s on a “search and rescue mission to save these Heroes of History.”

Ann has been called “one of the premiere collectors of vintage history” with an archive that is “museum quality.” Her focus is on historical handkerchiefs, which Ann says “tell stories of hope, of heartache, of happiness.” Her archives of 5000+ contain many handkerchief over a century old.

Her blogs include and She is a member of the Textile Arts Council of the deYoung Museum, the Vintage Fashion Guild, The Costume Society of America and the National Speakers Association. Ann is a handwriting and forgery expert by trade ( and is thus habituated to searching for the obscure and interesting.

Earlier Event: August 6
Luncheon - The Unsinkable Chauvenet
Later Event: October 8
Luncheon OFF-SITE: Fleet Week