On Friday 12 October 2013, I spent an enthralling afternoon at the York Castle Museum’s stores examining handkerchiefs recording historic events ranging from World War 1 to the building of Manchester Ship Canal as well as Royal jubilees and coronations. This is part of a project aiming to link objects in the museum collection with the extraordinarily rich evidence contained in the Board of Trade Representations and Registers of Designs 1839-1991 held at The National Archives, London.
This set of records, known widely as the BT Design Register, contains nearly three million designs which were registered between 1839 and 1991. This vast record contains the name and address of each proprietor who registered a design and a representation of the registered design as a drawing, photograph or sample. I’ve been working with Dinah Eastop, Curatorial Research Fellow, The National Archives, and we have already established that a printed cotton handkerchief named ‘A Souvenir of the Record Reign of Queen Victoria 1897’ with the Registration number 292206 appears in the BT Design Register.
This made it possible to identify the manufacturer as Aitken Campbell & Co., a Glasgow firm founded in 1847.
Mary M Brooks, Director, MA International Cultural Heritage Management, Durham University.
This research is supported by The Textile Society
For the Guide Reference to the BT Design Register, click here.
For an online exhibition of 300 Victorian-era ceramic and related designs from the BT Design Register, click here.
For links to interactive images of some of the designs in the BT Design Register, and a medieval seal, see the following links: