Dishy Vintage Dog Towels


Woven cotton novelty dog tea towel depicting chic poodles.

A RECENT PICNIC TEA with an old dog breeding friend brought back some childhood memories of standing at the sink bench with my mother, carefully drying dishes.

On this occasion my friend had brought along delicious scones, plump with fruit sitting in a basket draped in a cleverly cross-stitched tea towel. Depicted on the towel was an irresistibly handsome Scottish terrier complete with chef’s hat, carrying a tray of baking.

It reminded me of the dog dish towels we had in our house as a child. A playful puppy for each day of the week (and the wrath of siblings would come down upon you if you used a Monday towel on a Thursday!).

Even without the other six days of the week this beautifully worked little Thursday foundling will fetch in the region of $15 at an online aution site.

The advent of the dishwasher, fast food in plastic containers and the demise of home cooking has somewhat seen the tea towel relegated to the box with grandma’s knickers and napkins. Most housekeepers today would no sooner settle down in a quiet moment to embroider a plain towel as fly to the moon!

The humble tea towel (or dish towel as it is often known) has a colorful history (in a literal sense) with examples ranging from subdued and sensible plain linen towels to the wonderful florid designs so popular in the souvenir shops and tourist gift bags.

monarch socttie

Much of the hand-made work originated from Monarch, Superior and like brands, cross-stitch iron-on transfers patterns. These are often still available. Why not get yourself a set and make your own heirloom.

Thankfully there is a quiet but eager little niche of collectors out there who are snapping up the vintage dog tea towels and dish towels and along the way doing their part to preserve the handiwork of previous generations of housewives, along with the designers who brought us the printed towels.

Hand embroidered dog towels are very collectible. The “Days of the Week” (DOW) towels can still be found in complete sets with common themes being Scottie dogs (Scottish terriers), and those great 1950s spaghetti poodles who lend themselves to being reproduced in linen and cotton with such style. The workmanship ranges from primitive to delicate works of art which should have become family heirlooms!

Handsome setter dish towels.

Cross stitched or embroidered vintage dog towels are desirable not only for their originality but for the “hand” that went in to making them. As the 20th century progressed time became a valuable commodity and mass production techniques meant fewer housewives being crafty with their own linen to cheer up the kitchen.

Tammis keefe dog

Tammis Keefe designed dog dish towel.

It wasn’t just the housewife putting dog designs on tea towels 60 years ago. The 1950s saw the entrance of wonderful Tammis Keefe designed kitchen towels. Although known for her handkerchiefs and as a designer for Kimbal Scarves her designs worked equally well in the kitchen. Born in 1920 (she died at the age of 40), Keefe’s work in the 1950s is typical of the era, being both whimsical and chic.  Her signature on an item guarantees a design from her drawing board.

Many vintage dog dish and tea towels like those mentioned in this article come up for sale here!

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Posted by Edman on Sep 5 2010. Filed under Dig This News, Kitchenalia, Pup Style, Vintage Dogs. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

1 Comment for “Dishy Vintage Dog Towels”

  1. I came across your site while searching for more cat and dog information. I have both a dog and cat and they truly a part of our family. Keep up the good work. I’m going to bookmark the site and look forward to reading more articles.

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