The J.G. Ballard archive at the British Library is now publicly accessible reports the Guardian, adding that its existence is rather remarkable: "I hate... instant memorialising", Ballard once said: "Little shrines erected in some university library around the handkerchief in which Graham Greene blew his nose in 1957." Not so weird as you might think: there are plenty of archived handkerchiefs out there including at the National Maritime Museum in London; the Musée McCord in Montreal; and the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.
See: Hall, Chris (2011) "JG Ballard: Relics of a red-hot mind", Guardian, 4 August, accessed 05/08/2011 at, http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/aug/04/j-g-ballard-relics-red-hot-mind
"That handkerchief... take heed on't. Make it a darling, like your precious eye. To lose't or give't away were such perdition as nothing else could match." (Shakespeare, Othello, Act 3, Scene 4)
Will Fisher has some fascinating things to say about "the handkerchief in Othello". It is, he argues, a liminal object in that it serves as "a 'prosthesis' which both is and is not a part of the body."(1)
(1) Will Fisher, Materializing Gender in Early Modern English Literature and Culture, Cambridge & New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006, p.54.