I began to collect items by Tammis Keefe around 1999 when a sideline conversation among parents at a children’s soccer game turned to the subject of handkerchiefs. Hankies and other textiles are fun to collect – unbreakable, relatively easy to store, and, with a wide price range, there’s “truly something for everyone.”
In collecting, one thing often leads to another, and I now have literally hundreds of Keefe items, including furnishing fabrics, apparel, ceramics, and glassware, as well as domestic linens, such as placemats, tablecloths, runners and dishtowels.
My interest led to a well-received exhibit at my local library in 2001, and another display the following year. The text that accompanies my galleries is based on my essays from those exhibits.
I had put a lot of effort into the library exhibits and it seemed a shame to relegate that material to the dark interior of a file cabinet. Moreover, as the collection grew, it became clear that I needed a digital record of my collection, for better organization. So, the website seemed a natural next step. Our goal is, over time, to post images of most of my items online. The first gallery we’ve tackled is a partial display of handkerchiefs.
One important note: this website is not a price guide. For valuations, it may be best to search online auction sites or books such as those from Schiffer Publishing.
Phoebe Ann Erb’s excellent article “Get Out Your Handkerchiefs!”, published in the April/May 2000 issue of the journal American Craft, is a must-read for background on Tammis Keefe.
I have an extensive bibliography of Keefe material, including contemporary books which feature Keefe’s work, as well as articles and interviews in periodicals, print ads, press releases from her publicist, etc. The study of objects such as hankies and dishtowels, used by women every day, furthers our understanding of postwar style and color, of the role of women in commercial art, of domestic manufacturing and screen process printing, of mercantilism and department store culture in New York and elsewhere. One small square of cloth can have quite a tale to tell.
For ease of use, I have given each unique design a descriptive title and a colorway indication. From public relations releases and advertisements, we know some of the names originally given to Keefe’s designs. As my research continues, and I uncover the names used in ads or other sources, I will re-identify the items with their original names. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and this website is an ongoing project.
Thank you for your interest in my website. You may reach me, Ellen, at:
info at tammiskeefe dot com.
I normally respond to signed emails that are polite and coherent.
Again, I cannot give appraisals.
Whenever I refer to “we” in this website, I refer to myself, and my husband, who is my tech support and patient web guru. I also must thank Phoebe Ann Erb, who first introduced me to Keefe ‘s work at that long-ago soccer game. Thanks also to my family – if they ever thought my collecting habit was odd, they were too kind and sweet to say so.