1920-30s. A photographic record of American historical handkerchiefs, the basis of a book that was never published.
This collection of approximately 460 black & white photographs was taken with the intention of Edwin Lefevre, an avid collector, of publishing a book on the subject. He sought help from other collectors - a form letter in the collection states "I am writing a book about American historical handkerchiefs. This includes those used in presidential campaigns or commemorative of battles or notable political, social and educational events or famous persons. ... I am writing to you in the hope that you will let me know whether you own or know of any such handkerchiefs." Although Lefevre did receive generous help from various collectors, the book was unpublished as far as we can ascertain with a thorough check of OCLC and auction records.
Lefevre was an interesting character, a Panamanian/American journalist, writer and diplomat most noted for his writings on Wall Street business. His books were popular and remain highly collectible. His family lived in Atlantic City and the Wikipedia entry states that in 1908, he and his family moved to East Dorset, Vermont. He collected and apparently dealt in historical handkerchiefs and historical flasks and bottles. We have found one auction record of a "Bandana depicting the Battle of New Orleans, circa 1815-1816" which sold at auction in 2003 for $4200. The provenance is listed as "Purchased September 23, 1937 for $150 from Edwin Lefevre." (Rare Book Hub record number N07867-1013). In the Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera at the Winterthur Museum, references to Edwin Lefevre in 1939-40 appear in the papers of Samuel H. Laidacker, an antiques dealer. (Finding_Aids/COL0064.htm) Lefevre wrote an article in 1939, "Washington Historical Handkerchiefs", which appeared in Antiques, 36 (no.1): 14-17. The article was referenced by Raymond B. Clark, Jr. "Historical Handkerchiefs" in 1955 "currently a Henry Francis DuPont Winterthur Museum Fellow" who was shortly to receive his MA in early American Culture from the Univ. of Delaware. In the 3rd paragraph, he states "The definitive monograph or book on historical handkerchiefs has not been written."
Lefevre has written his name and Atlantic City address inside the cover of the binders. There are his manuscript notations on the verso noting collectors and other research and information. Many handkerchiefs are in the Lefevre's collection, so noted with either "E.L." or "Coll of E.L." on the verso. Other collectors include Henry DuPont, Mrs. J. Insley Blair, Mrs. J. Amory Haskell, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Harry M. Bland, Mrs. G. Bilhuber, and G. H. Lorimer (an early editor of The Saturday Evening Post, whose collection of historic bottles is in the Philadelphia Museum of Art.) Often, Lefevre has noted the size, color ways & research on the verso of the photographs.
The collection is housed in three large albums and one small one. Much of the first album is devoted to the Declaration of Independence, George Washington & famous battles, and popular subjects. The last third of the album and the full second album are of many presidential candidates and their opponents including Andrew Jackson, William Henry Harrison, Abraham Lincoln, William McKinley, Benjamin Harrison, Tyler, Grover Cleveland, James Garfield, Teddy Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover, a youngish Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The third album is largely sporting events, kerchiefs for children, including one for teaching sign language.
The 450 large photographs measure approx. 9 3/4" w x8", mounted on linen-backed pages measuring approx. 11" w x 8". 12 photos are housed in a smaller binder, the images measuring 6 1/4 x 5", and printed on thick photographic paper. They are in very good condition.
The images were professionally photographed by Fred. Hess and Son, of Atlantic City. We estimate the date of the photographs to be the 1930s, on the basis of several things. Firstly the book was not published - perhaps a result of the financial crash of 1929 and the Depression of the 1930s. Fred. Hess and Son were in business from at least the 1920s through the 1950s. They printed postcards of Atlantic City and the Jersey Shore, right through Miss America Pageant photographs in Atlantic City in 1953.
The binders themselves retain the stationers labels, which also places them in the 1920s. The small binder is from "Drimmer Press, 927 Broadway, New York." They appear in records of the NY Stationer's Association from 1918 - 1922. The large binders are from "Arrow Stationers, Sixteenth and Sansom St. Rittenhouse 7490." The collection is housed in 4 binders (3 large, 1 small). There are also about a dozen large photographs which do not fit into the binders, two copies of the form letter that Lefevre used to solicit help from other collectors, and about a dozen photographs that are not mounted on album sheets (some duplicates.)
A remarkable collection of images, most likely unrecorded anywhere else, at least as a group. Item #22821