Tammis: Baby Name Inspired by Hanky Designer?

tammis keefe, crocodile handkerchief, 1950s, baby name
Handkerchief by Tammis Keefe

The interesting name Tammis was a one-hit wonder in the baby name data right in the middle of the 1950s:

  • 1957: unlisted
  • 1956: unlisted
  • 1955: 6 baby girls named Tammis [debut]
  • 1954: unlisted
  • 1953: unlisted

What was the inspiration?

A mid-century textile artist, fascinatingly.

Her name was Tammis Keefe, and she was best known for the whimsical, colorful artwork she created for handkerchiefs, scarves, dish towels, and similar items.

During the ’50s her products were sold in department stores, advertised in newspapers, and sometimes even spotlighted in museum exhibits.

Her inventive designs included things as varied as circus poodles, zodiac signs, cowboys, cigar store Indians, fortune teller cards, antique automobiles, airships, piggy banks, mermaids, crocodiles (above), kangaroos, and weather vanes. They also featured her signature:

tammis keefe

Tammis Keefe was born Margaret Thomas Keefe in 1913. According to one newspaper article, she said her name was Gaelic for Thomas. (I haven’t found any proof of this yet, though “Tammis” seems pretty close to the Scottish form of Thomas, “Tamhas.”) Sadly, she died in 1960 at the age of 46.

What are your thoughts on the baby name Tammis?

Sources:

  • Roe, Dorothy. “Good Design Booms In America Today.” Paris News [Paris, Texas] 27 Oct. 1957: 15.
  • TammisKeefe.com

(Another fashion-inspired baby name: L’Tanya.)

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