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~ Tammis Keefe ~

Tammis Keefe is one of the great names of hankie and textile collecting. She was born in 1913, and in the 1940s worked as a textile print designer, designing prints for home furnishing textiles.  She began designing handkerchiefs for Kimbal scarves in the late 1940s or early 1950s.  Her designs are typically 1950s - full of whimsy with those great 1950s colors: pink, turquoise, gold and black.

Keefe's designs were often inspired by her travels.  One can find Oriental, Arabian nights, and European castle themed hankies. She also did hankies featuring American cities and attractions.  Many of these hankies were like little travel guides, showing the highlights of a city that were not to be missed.

Keefe's work also shows a love of nature and animals. Her dog and cat hankies are true 1950s classics.  Other designs to look for are her antique furniture and motifs, holidays including Christmas and Valentine's Day, and the special designs she made for the famous 21 Club in New York.

Keefe's hankies are most prized, but look also for linens and fabrics with her signature.  Her designs for the kitchen are just as clever and fresh as her hankies.  Silk scarves with the Tammis Keefe signature are rarer, but do surface from time to time.

Even rarer are clothing items she designed for the Marlboro Shirt Company.  Also, hankies signed Peg Thomas are Tammis Keefe designs.  

There are hundreds of Keefe designs from which to choose, as she was quite prolific, especially considering that she died in 1960 and had a relatively short career.

In 2000, Tammis Keefe's work was featured at a show at FIT - A Woman's Hand Designing Textiles in America 1945 - 1969.


Colorful 1930s Silk Scarf

Hermes Silk Twill

"Whenever possible I like to introduce the three dimensional in prints.  I like "depth" in a fabric.  I also like the introduction of current objects treated artistically.  Warm colors are my favorites - beige, tan, brown with the addition of some cool color for relief." Tammis Keefe, 1948, quoted in American Fabrics


Collecting Scarves ~ Wearing Art

Collecting scarves is a little like collecting art. In fact, you can find scarves designed by famous artists such as Picasso. And some scarf designers are renowned artists in their own right - Emilio Pucci, Tammis Keefe, Vera, and Wesley Simpson to name a few.

One of the great things about collecting scarves is there are so many themes from which to choose.  I love to travel, and so I collect vintage scarves and hankies that have travel themes.  You can take almost any interest and have it be reflected in a scarf collection.

There are scarves of most any animal, of places, of historical events and of people.  People collect cowboy, dancing, advertising and fashion themes. You can also find 1950s teenager, circus, patriotic and sporting scarves. Or you may just be interested in collecting scarves to complete an ensemble from a certain era.

Designer scarves are a whole category of collecting.  Many scarf lovers collect the work of one designer or design house.  Some great ones are Hermes, Pucci, Vera and Liberty.  Also popular are scarves from the couture houses, such as Dior and Givenchy.  It's a way of having a little of the cache' at an affordable price!

Many designers of the 1950s, such as Carolyn Schnurer, Anne Fogarty and Claire McCardell had a line of scarves, and 1960s designers such as Rudi Gernreich and Pierre Cardin did scarves much in the same vein as the clothes they designed.  Also consider the work of pop artists such as Peter Max, or the unique textile firms such as Etro and Missoni.

American Fabrics, Volume 7, 1948.

Baseman, Andrew and  Carlton, Harold, The Scarf, NewYork: Stewart, Tabori, & Chang, 1989.

Ridgefield Press, June 6, 1960, Obituary. Ridgefield, CT.

Making It Fun, November 24, 2010

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