Lately, there is a resurgence in the practice of carrying a handkerchief, but with a few pretty cool updates. These EDC hanks aren’t your grandfather’s handkerchief!  The first thing to know is the name has been shortened to simply, hank. They are made from t-shirts, flannel, denim, any soft fabric works. Each side of the EDC hank design can stand on its own. Put them together and you have a piece of art in your pocket. The stitch pattern even contributes to the design as much as the graphics and colors.

They have all the typical uses of a traditional handkerchief, but with some updated perks:

1. They look cool in your social media feed with your latest mail call knife.

2. Useful for tying up your cut finger from said mail call knife…(your DNA=your knife).

3. Wipe the grit from your knife after a day on the job.

4. Protect the finish on your dresser, lay your pocket dump on your hank for easy pick up in the morning.

5. Wipe the tears from your eyes when your favorite football team wins the Super Bowl.

6. Wrap it around your chilled, Monster, energy drink so the condensation doesn’t ruin your gaming console.

7. Use for wiping off the bar of your 455lb bench-press.

8. Give to your lady love so she can wave it during your MMA championship match.

9. Polish your shield.

10. Useful as a back pocket flag off your 2017 Harley Low Rider S.

11. Wipe down your 1974 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe Cherry Sunburst.

12. A great placemat for your lunch in the woods.

13. Wipe your iPad clean of Dorito fingerprints.

14. Auto paint job protector when you lay out your tools.

15. Wrap your Oakley’s.

16. Great for magic tricks.

17. Impromptu washcloth.

18. Tuck it into the car window so the hot sun doesn’t beat down on your baby.

19. Cool as a triangle around your dog’s neck while at the beach.

20. Wipe a snowflake’s runny nose.

An Abbreviated Hank History 

Handkerchiefs were very popular during the 50’s.  The big-name department stores, Lord & Taylor and Niemen Marcus were producing hundreds of colorful, whimsical designs.  at the same time there was a surge of travel related hanks that were very popular.  They were infused with colorful maps of popular destinations like Florida and California.

During the depression, they were used by women as a fashion statement. It was the only way many women could afford to “change” their outfit.  They would embroider different colors and designs on the small patch of cloth.  This would refresh what they were wearing at a minimal cost.

In the 1930’s men’s suits were made with as little material as possible.  However, the ensemble was not complete without a men’s silk handkerchief. Prior to the breast pocket, men’s handkerchiefs were relegated to the pants pocket as it was a considered a major breach of proper etiquette to expose a used handkerchief in public.

Pirates and Kings Give Thanks for Hanks

Pirates, farmers, cowboys and sailors found practicality in using handkerchiefs or bandannas.

Handkerchiefs have been used in political campaigns.  One such campaign was George Washington’s.  Martha Washington had them printed for the Constitutional Convention of 1787, before our country even had a president.  They’ve been used for royal coronations and had speeches printed on them.  There are historical commemorations that are contained on handkerchiefs.  George Washington even had his resignation speech printed on a commemorative handkerchief.

During the middle ages, the larger the handkerchief, the more status it held. A decree was issued by King Louis XVI that no one could carry a handkerchief larger than his. In 1594, Henry the IV had given 2 handkerchiefs to his mistress. They had a combined worth of 1900 francs. After she died, he sought their return.

Starting Races to Wiping Faces

The English dubbed it a “coverchief” for covering the head.  A smaller version was named a “hand coverchief” for covering the hand.

They’ve been immortalized in fine art for centuries. As the Renaissance emerged, traders began bringing them from China.  They were all the rage with the wealthy Europeans who wore them as fashion accessories.

From chariot races to drag races the humble handkerchief has been waved at the start.  The Romans called the cloth sudarium, meaning ‘to sweat”.  The linen was expensive and imported, so it only wiped the sweat of the wealthiest of Romans.  Emperor Aurelian, the 3rd Century A.D. Roman emperor, changed the name to orarium.  This word elevated its meaning making the item more appropriate for gift giving.  The translation of orarium is a hem; a border; a kerchief. Handkerchiefs were waved to the gladiators in the Colosseum.

Bless You

Handkerchiefs are even mentioned in the New Testament, in Acts 19:12,“so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.” NIV

They have been bequeathed in wills and dowries. A Shakespeare play depicted Othello killing himself over a misunderstanding that involved the of the loss of a handkerchief.

The handkerchief was used in ancient China, as far back as the Zhou Dynasty. Statues were discovered depicting the cloth as a protection from the beating sun.

It is thought that their advent came about in ancient Egypt, back to 2000 BCE. Only the wealthiest of the Egyptians could carry the bleached white linen.

All through the centuries, handkerchiefs have been a very important status symbol. The practice of weaving fibers into cloth is over 30,000 years old. It was only a matter of time for men and women to begin to carry that useful piece of cloth.

From End to Beginning

The end of the traditional handkerchief came with the Kleenex advertising slogan, “Don’t Carry a Cold in Your Pocket”.   That closed the book on the long and historical life of the handkerchief…… that is, until now.

Today’s EDC hanks are varied in size, texture, weight, color and design.  Hobbies, football teams, brand names, alcoholic beverages, whatever you can imagine can be made into an EDC hank

What is your favorite way to use your EDC hank?

Please let us know in the comments below.

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