[No: XXII | By Viveka Hansen]

A unique collection of nine commemorative tray cloths, handkerchiefs, towels and scarfs printed on cotton or silk between 1863 and 1909 are included in the Social History Collection at Whitby Museum. These textiles are not locally produced but could still have a local stamp because of a connection with the shop where they were bought/sold. My aim with this “Textile Thought” is to depict and describe the print’s history and commemorative link to Queen Victoria and Edward VII.

Jubilee year scarf to celebrate Queen Victoria’s “Royal Jubilee Year 1887”. The Mining, Engineering & Industrial Exhibition – Newcastle upon Tyne 1886, is one of the depicted events on this scarf. Print in black on unbleached cotton, 54x54 cm in size. (Owner: Whitby Museum, SOH595). Photo: The IK Foundation & Company, London.

Jubilee year scarf to celebrate Queen Victoria’s “Royal Jubilee Year 1887”. The Mining, Engineering & Industrial Exhibition – Newcastle upon Tyne 1886, is one of the depicted events on this scarf. Print in black on unbleached cotton, 54×54 cm in size. (Owner: Whitby Museum, SOH595). Photo: The IK Foundation, London.

Souvenirs of this kind were printed in considerable quantities and reasonably priced despite the fact that the finest might be printed on unbleached silk or on cotton with a ribbed woven edge. Even cheaper was a pattern printed on unbleached smooth cotton or, quite simply, on paper. All these examples in the Whitby collection were printed on fabric using engraved copper plates and ordinary printing inks, in most cases in a single colour.

 Commemorative handkerchief, print with ‘Lambert & Warters General Drapers Whitby’. (Owner: Whitby Museum, SOH596). Photo: The IK Foundation & Company, London.

Commemorative handkerchief, print with ‘Lambert & Warters General Drapers Whitby’. (Owner: Whitby Museum, SOH596). Photo: The IK Foundation, London.

Centre part of the same handkerchief (Owner: Whitby Museum, SOH596). Photo: The IK Foundation & Company, London.

Centre part of the same handkerchief (Owner: Whitby Museum, SOH596). Photo: The IK Foundation, London.

One of these – shown in the two illustrations above – is exceptionally interesting from a local (Whitby) point of view, since ‘Lambert & Waters General Drapers Whitby’ has been printed on a handkerchief commemorating the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897. It measures 49 by 49 cm and consists of tabby woven cotton with a ribbed woven edge. The Queen is in the centre surrounded by members of her family and such features of Victorian transport as a railway, steamship and early car, etc. These prints must have been sold at the named drapery – Manchester House, Fishburn Park in Whitby – during the jubilee year of 1897.

 Close-up depiction of a tray cloth to celebrate the marriage of H.R.H. Albert Edward to H.R.H. Alexandra in 1863. Printed in blue on unbleached cotton, 75x63 cm in size. (Owner: Whitby Museum, 2002/39.2). Photo: The IK Foundation & Company, London.

Close-up depiction of a tray cloth to celebrate the marriage of H.R.H. Albert Edward to H.R.H. Alexandra in 1863. Printed in blue on unbleached cotton, 75×63 cm in size. (Owner: Whitby Museum, 2002/39.2). Photo: The IK Foundation, London.

Five other prints were produced instead for Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee ten years earlier. With Victoria always in the centre the illustrations vary but mostly feature her children and grandchildren, Prime Ministers during her reign, industrial exhibitions and maps of the colonies. The earliest item in the collection is a tray cloth ‘to commemorate the marriage of H.R.H. Albert Edward to H.R.H. Alexandra, 1863’.

 Handkerchief to remember the Jubilee of Queen Victoria (not dated, but probably 1887) with “Cape Colony” map. The collection includes two identical fabrics with this print in blue on unbleached cotton, 43x46 cm in size. (Owner: Whitby Museum, SOH1781). Photo: The IK Foundation & Company, London.

Handkerchief to remember the Jubilee of Queen Victoria (not dated, but probably 1887) with “Cape Colony” map. The collection includes two identical fabrics with this print in blue on unbleached cotton, 43×46 cm in size. (Owner: Whitby Museum, SOH1781). Photo: The IK Foundation, London.

A second handkerchief to commemorate the same Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1887, including illustrations of her family and Prime Ministers during her reign. Print in black on unbleached cotton, 58x58 cm in size. (Owner: Whitby Museum, SOH1783). Photo: The IK Foundation & Company, London.

A second handkerchief to commemorate the same Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1887, including illustrations of her family and Prime Ministers during her reign. Print in black on unbleached cotton, 58×58 cm in size. (Owner: Whitby Museum, SOH1783). Photo: The IK Foundation, London.

The two latest show the new king Edward VII in 1901 printed in full colour on cotton, and a silk scarf of 1909 in honour of an ‘Alaskan Pacific Exposition’ (not illustrated). It is probable that most of these relatively inexpensive commemorative items were bought in Whitby, either from the Lambert & Waters drapery or from one of the other local textile-orientated shops. Popular modern prints like these could attract a wide public, since they could either be used commemorative in the home, or simply as practical furnishing details or could even, if printed on silk, be worn by their owner as a smart scarf.

Close-up of the new King – Edward VII – 1901. This commemorative cotton cloth is measuring 79x90 cm. (Owner: Whitby Museum, SOH598). Photo: The IK Foundation & Company, London.

Close-up of the new King – Edward VII – 1901. This commemorative cotton cloth is measuring 79×90 cm. (Owner: Whitby Museum, SOH598). Photo: The IK Foundation, London.

To be continued…

[Research material and extracts (Chapter 2) from the forthcoming book ‘The Textile History of Whitby 1700-1914’, see “NEWS(the book will include a complete list of notes).] PUBLISHED JUNE 15TH, 2015.

PLEASE REFERENCE AS FOLLOWS:

  • Hansen, Viveka, ‘Queen Victoria & Edward VII – Commemorative Printed Textiles’, TEXTILIS, (May 2, 2014); http://textilis.net/ (Accessed: Day/Month/Year)