To celebrate the release on 12 October of the film ‘Suffragette’ (for which I was an historical consultant) I will post each day an image of a suffrage item that has passed through my hands.
For my current catalogue – No 189 – which contains a good deal of suffrage material – as well as general books and ephemera by and about women – see here.
‘Woman’s Rights 1861/1981 And What Came Of It’
This is a white cotton kerchief ,measuring 22.5″ x 24″. It dates – presumably – from 1861 (the Design Registration No is 364805) and the very stylish illustrations printed on it show what the world would be like 120 years into the future – ie in 1981 – when women had won their Rights.
Thus women appear as barristers and judges, as admirals, captains and sailors, as athletes, as telegraph girls, as astronomers, scientists and – and who can now restrain their laughter – as politicians. The men, meanwhile, mind the babies, do the tatting and are parlour maids and house maids.
The kerchief – designed four years before the presentation of the first suffrage petition – contains all the tropes – the embodiment of light-hearted, but deeply-rooted prejudice – that are now so familiar to us through the comic postcards that were produced in response to the suffragette campaign in the years before the First World War.