"Manchester Red Sprigged" Handkerchief


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The "Manchester Red Sprigged" Handkerchief was inspired by a late 18th century print depicting two Afro-Latina street vendors wearing headwraps.“The Negras vendedoras de rua (Black Street Vendors)” by Carlos Julio  in conjuction with Not Your Momma's History.

The woman on the left wears a simple printed headwrap (much like our "Manchester Red Sprigged" Handkerchief), while the woman on the right wears a red, or red checked, headwrap.  Brazil had one of the largest enslaved populations in the 18th century, making this likely a print of two enslaved women.

Manchester, England was the hub of the cotton textile industry by the end of the 18th century. Merchants achieved great profit from importing cotton from the West Indies and later the Americas, then exporting cloth of cotton and linen/cotton blends. Goods were sent to London, where simple designs such as the sprigs adopted from India, and depicted on our "Manchester Red Sprigged" Handkerchief, were printed for England and the overseas market.  The popularity of these textiles soon made them a desirable payment for enslaved persons.  Manchester’s proximity to the port of Liverpool provided an opportunity for textile merchants to export their cloth, and to actively participate, through vessel and warehouses ownership, in buying and selling enslaved individuals.

Among the surviving documents of the ship The Unity were inventories listing a huge quantity and variety of textiles to be used as payment for enslaved persons, upon their arrival in West Africa. The 18 tons of 35 different textiles included printed textiles, including flowered ones.

Because we felt the textile accuracy was as important as the print in our "Manchester Red Sprigged" Handkerchief, we reproduced the textile with a linen warp and cotton weft, and block printed it with a simple sprig.

Our "Manchester Red Sprigged" Handkerchief:

  • Approximately 36 inches square. 

  • Hand printed, hemmed, and loomed 50% linen/50% cotton.

  • To learn about our "Manchester Red Sprigged" Handkerchief, and others, visit About Our Handkerchiefs

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