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Collecting Historical Tablecloths

Not only do tablecloths document "herstory", some of them were created to recognize historical events or people. Some became tied to what was going on in the country at the time. I have collected some interesting vintage tablecloths in the past few years. I have a special weakness for World War II era cloths. I have also added a couple of amusement park tablecloths just for fun! Now, please remember that while I am obsessed with vintage tablecloths, I am not an American History expert. This page is a work in progress!

Please click on the pictures to see larger pictures of the tablecloth.

prohibition beer pretzel vintage tablecloth

This tablecloth is shown on page 25 of Pamela Glasell's "Collectors' Guide to Vintage Tablecloths". It dates to the 1920s and is a tri-colored damask. Themes of beersteins, dice, pretzels, sausages, sausage dogs and black cats may commemorate the German beerhalls operated underground during the prohibition.

president signatures vintage tablecloth

This vintage tablecloth includes signatures from the American presidents from George Washington, our first President beginning in 1789 through to Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd President. There is no ending date to his term so this cloth was printed sometime between 1933 and 1945

political slogans vintage tablecloth

Wonderful political slogan tablecloth. I haven't had a chance to investigate this further to determine the printing date.

political slogans

Widely recognized as a slogan for Roosevelt's New Deal in the 1930s, this slogan was actually created by the Republican National Committee for Hoover's Presidential run in 1928. These two colored linen vintage tablecloths were common during the 1930s

WCTU Frances Willard Monuments vintage tablecloth

Frances C. Willard was the second president of the National Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) and the founder of the International Women's Christian Temperance Union. Both were founded to promote temperance. Willard also supported women's suffrage. This vintage tablecloth includes all the monuments dedicated to this strong lady.

Three little pigs vintage tablecloth

I threw this in because I find it very interesting. The original Disney Three Little Pigs movie was made in 1933? and was an immediate hit. The country was in a depression and the cartoon resonated with the public. It gave them hope that hard work and ingenuity would eventually win against the wolf at the door.

1939 World's Fair vintage tablecloth

The 1939 World's Fair was held in New York. It was an important segue from the hopelessness of the 1930s depressions to the fear of the growing tensions in Europe. Many of the technologies we take for granted were introduced including TV and the fax machine.

Trylon and Perisphere

The Trylon and Perisphere were the icons of the 1939 World's Fair. This vintage tablecloth has an interesting ribbed texture and the blue and orange which were the fair approved colors

Tom Lamb Pageant of the States vintage tablecloth

One of my personal favorites, this Tom Lamb linen vintage tablecloth has pictures of each State with the icons from each. Tom Lamb designed this tablecloth for the 1939 World's Fair. I have a matching purple scarf!

tony sarg nywf vintage tablecloth

This 1939 NY World's Fair was designed by Tony Sarg, another iconic designer of that era. Note the fair colors of blue and orange again and the corner drawings of the Trylon and Perisphere.

still another nywf vintage tablecloth

Another NYWF tablecloth depicting the neighborhoods of New York where immigrants clustered with other families from their country of origin.

SFWF Treasure Island vintage tablecloth

Interestingly, there was also a World's Fair held in San Francisco in 1939. I need to read more about this to see why the US would have two worlds fairs in one year. Perhaps because people were less able to travel in 1939? I think the site was built on a new island called Treasure Island and that's why this tablecloth has a pirate theme.

textile mills game vintage tablecloth

I love this tablecloth! I think it was probably based on the popularity of Monopoly, introduced in 1935. References are made to the Walsh Healy Act of 1936 and the Office of Production Management and Office of Price Administration created in the early 40s

battle of the sexes

A very rare tablecloth depicting the battle of the sexes in the early 40s. Women were demanding equal rights and heading out into the workforce, led by social icons like Rosalind Russell and Kate Hepburn. Note the wide legged pants worn by the woman!

Victory Garden vintage tablecloth

This Cohama vintage tablecloth is shown on page 68 of "Colorful Tablecloths" by Erin Henderson and Yvonne Barineau. An early 40s cloth meant to encourage home growing of vegetables for the war effort

Victory Armed Forces vintage tablecloth

This tablecloth is included in Pamela Glasell's first book. It is a 1946 tablecloth celebrating the men and women of the armed forces. It is printed on thin cotton, perhaps because much of the cotton was diverted to the war effort. Note the fugitive dye

Axis Rats Football Cartoon vintage tablecloth

This vintage tablecloth is a cartoon of a football game between the USA led by Roosevelt and the Axis Rats. It has three sides with maps of the South Pacific, North Africa and Japan. The fourth side shows the football game with Hitler going down for defeat.

RAF signatures vintage tablecloth

This wonderful embroidered "friendship" tablecloth has about 1000 RAF signatures from 1944. It was submitted by Jacqui Ross in England. The center refers to the British Red Cross and St John of Jerusalem.

war era insignia vintage tablecloth

I haven't had much of a change to investigate this one either. It appears to be a war era cloth (fugitive dye) with insignia surrounded by skyscrapers, perhaps New York City?

war era US Victory vintage tablecloth

War era Victory tablecloth depicting American icons.

United Nations scarf

This scarf depicts the original nations who agreed to form the United Nations after World War II.

Black Bartender Party vintage tablecloth

Another one of my favorites. This tablecloth was taken to a party in 1951. The guests signed it then the signatures were embroidered. Strangely, there are still pencil signatures that were not embroidered. How did the seamstress decide which to embellish? Who were these people?

Coney Island Cincinatti vintage tablecloth

Pink and blue. What can I say? Coney Island was opened in 1870. It was rebuilt several times due to fire and flood. I think this tablecloth dates to the 1940s based on the attractions on the cloth. The Coney Island website is very interesting

Disneyland vintage tablecloth

This vintage tablecloth is from the early days of Disneyland. According to something I read, it has designs that weren't actually used in the park. I haven't been since I was 12 and I don't remember much. I did have a weird recurring dream about the people mover for 25 years until I finally figured out what it was when I saw an early film of the park

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 Vintage tablecloths - last modified: December 17, 2007, Copyright 2008, All Rights Reserved