Thursday, December 5, 2013

Holiday hanky from Peoples Laundry & Dry Cleaning

Ashar gave me this piece of advertising ephemera as a Christmas gift last year.1

It's a holiday card for Peoples Laundry & Dry Cleaning of York, Pennsylvania, with part of a folded handkerchief sewn into the top. (The front of the hanky is scripted with "Merry Christmas" and the back has "Happy New Year.")

Peoples was a well-known business for many decades in York. I can't find specific dates of incorporation and disestablishment, but it could have dated as far back as the 1910s and there's evidence — gleaned from the obituaries of some longtime employees2 — that it was still in business in the early to mid-1980s.

At some point, the Peoples Laundry location at 284 West Market Street went into the hands of The Redevelopment Authority of the City of York. The site then was occupied by Sparky and Clark's coffee shop for a number of years. Now, that address is the location of a different coffee business — New Grounds Roasting Company.

The card is designed to fit into the breast pocket of a shirt or jacket and give the wearer the appearance of having a hanky inside. Thus, it's kind of a faux pocket square. There is actually a market for these things.

This advertising novelty was created for Peoples Laundry by Handy Hanky Inc. of Niagara Falls, New York. One interesting tidbit I uncovered about the company is that, in 1961, Ralph E. Becker3 donated 18 false-pocket handkerchiefs from the 1960 presidential campaign, made by Handy Hanky, to the Smithsonian Institution.

1. Best son EVER.
2. Peoples Laundry is mentioned in the obituaries for Grayson M. Arendt, Maria G. Desimone and Dorothy Margaret "Dot" Fake Black, among others.
3. Ralph Elihu Becker, who died at age 87 in 1994, was "a Washington lawyer and former ambassador long active in Republican politics," according to his obituary in The New York Times. Here's a relevant excerpt from that obituary:
"An avid collector of political memorabilia dating to 1790, Mr. Becker amassed ribbons, buttons, prints, cartoons, broadsheets and brochures. In 1961, he donated the material, the Ralph E. Becker Collection of Political Americana, to the Smithsonian Institution. In 1992, with Mr. Becker's financial support, the Smithsonian published 'Hail to the Candidate: Presidential Campaigns from Banners to Broadcast.' Mr. Becker contributed a chapter recounting his experiences as a collector."

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