I have been wearing bandannas as sweatbands while I run and while doing laundry was surprised to realize that a couple of the ones I have been using were ones I have had since I was a teenager. That jolted over into a memory of my maternal grandfather buying me a red bandanna sometime in the 1970s at a rural grain elevator, the co-op store, presumably in northwest Missouri near his childhood home, although I have no memories of visiting my mother’s family in that area with her parents. I guess that means that he may have bought that bandanna with me elsewhere or that it was a different relative.

The elderly bandannas I do have are two-color dye, on white cotton, giving a three-color pattern, and are marked “made in USA” with a pattern number, I guess what we’d call a SKU. There’s no real possibility, I guess, that the factories that made these remain in operation. I wonder how old the patterns are?

I guess they could have been about a century old when they were new, although I doubt that a factory would have kept such a design in production for that long. They surely refer to a design tradition that was about that old. Of course, that tradition drew its design vocabulary from older European and Asian handwork and the collision of that tradition with the industrial age in England and elsewhere between 1790 and 1900.
I suppose there must be a thriving collector’s market for vintage bandannas. Maybe someday I’ll look for it on ebay.