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With Anzac Day (25 April) fast approaching, there will be many stories about New Zealand’s military past coming to light in the media.
Here are some examples of linen produced during World War II. These have been found at various second-hand shops. I would love to add more items to the collection but with the huge interest in our military past, I’m finding it not so easy to source items in charity shops.
The first piece featuring embroidery on black velvet is not in the best condition. It used to be displayed on a table but unfortunately quickly faded. Have now learnt to take far better care of historic items. Features a message ‘with love from Arthur’ – I wonder and hope that Arthur survived the war!
The second example also features scenes of the Middle East with its exotic pyramids and camels on display.
Here’s another souvenir of Egypt dated 1941 – makes you wonder how these items were treated on their return. Were these souvenirs proudly displayed or instead carefully placed into cupboards for safekeeping?
The following is a green silk handkerchief which featues the Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force logo.
The final item is a tablecloth picked up at a fair a few years. I’m intrigued by the dates showing ‘victory and 1944’. The Second War World officially ended in 1945 but perhaps the soldier’s campaign had ended earlier in 1944.
Features the initials of J.S.W. in between peace and victory.
A comment in an earlier blog about demure crinoline-and-bonnet women has inspired this blog. Rummaging through the collection, produced numerous examples of linen featuring women’s faces completely covered by bonnets.
In her book Thrift to Fantasy, Rosemary McLeod devotes a chapter to Dolly Varden and refers to other names such as Sunbonnet Sue or the Crinoline Lady. The ‘Dolly Varden’ name originates from the Charles Dicken’s novel, Barnaby Rudge. The common image of Dolly Varden features her in profile wearing a large bonnet tied with a ribbon. Rosemary suggests that apart from stylist reasons, it is much easier to embrodier an image of a bonnet rather than dealing with tricky facial features.
Detail from a table-cloth which features the same design in each of the corners. Here Dolly is seen tending to a tree.
A tea cosy cover features Dolly in her garden with a house in the background. There is also a hint of hair poking though her bonnet. The of dream of home ownership extended towards gardens and we see idealized images of perfectly maintained gardens. Dolly is externally youthful and in these pieces, women’s lives as seen as playful rather than grimly real.
In this design Dolly is actually seen watering her gardening, looking after the ever-popular gladiolli blooms.
Part of an unfinished apron showing Dolly again in action with a watering can.
Set of Dolly Varden pieces including tray cloths, an egg cup holder and two mystery pieces. All pieces are beautifully done with tattering around the borders but I have no idea the purpose of the two smaller items. Any clues are welcomed!
And finally, one of my favourites items where traces of blonde hair are spotted but the bonnet dominates the head, almost looking like a headless character in a horror film.
With the long weekend coming up, many New Zealanders will be hitting the roads exploring other regions. For those of us who simply adore “stuff”, the holiday weekend provides a great opportunity to pick up items from our travels. This got me thinking about the classic fabric souvenirs from tourist patches to pennants.
What actually happened to them once they had been handed over to an excited kid? Were they sewn onto blankets, bed linen or clothes? Perhaps they were used to cover up worn areas of clothing, making them drab to fab?