Monday, February 3, 2014

Vintage Valentine Puzzle Handkerchiefs

The history of Valentine’s Day is all about secret love and so are these handkerchiefs. I have seen them referred to as both “Secret Message Handkerchiefs” and “Puzzle Handkerchiefs”.  This is my current collection. I think they probably all date back to the 1940’s; however, I have only found proof that two of them do. The one with the cupid is a Franshaw hanky and was featured in an advertisement in a 1949 issue of Mademoiselle Magazine. And, the first one in the bottom row which forms a white heart was produced by Kimball and is featured in a 1947 issue of Charm Magazine. 

Take a look at the open hankies in the second picture. One’s first impression when seeing one of these hankies might be that the design is a tad askew or just plain strange. Now look at the hankies again in the first picture. When folded, they reveal a hidden message or surprise picture. Unless you know what you are looking at you would likely pass one of these treasures by.

See if you can match the open hankies with their folded version. Here's a hint - I've mixed them up to make it bit more challenging for you.

Now I am going to show you how to do the fold. They are all about the same and all you need to do is look for the points you need to match up. I will use the Franshaw Cupid handkerchief in my example.

No 1 - Examine the design and determine the top. Lay handkerchief face up.

No 2 - Fold this one in half (bottom up to top) with right sides together.

No 3 - Fold top half back down on itself at the halfway point.

No 4 - Notice the shape of the hearts. These are the curves you will eventually match up.

No 5 - Fold the handkerchief in half again (left to right) toward the inside and then back out on itself  again one-quarter of the way while lining up the curves of the heart. All Done!


  1. I just did a post on valentine hankies today on my blog and a reader directed me to your post. I have a puzzle hankie and had never heard of them before. Your post was the perfect thing to help me figure mine out...THANK YOU! I just did a post and linked back to you...your collection is inspiring!

  2. Thanks Laurie - They really are a fun thing to collect.

  3. No way! I bet sooo many people have them, and don't realize that they can be folded in this way!
    How neat! Thank you for showing us something we didn't know about....well I didn't anyway! :)

  4. Any time you see a design on a hanky that just does not look quite right - think puzzle hanky.

  5. This is fascinating, I just can't imagine how they came up with these fabulous designs! Of course I am amazed at your gorgeous dresses too!


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