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Catalog Data

Medium:
Wire
Dimensions:
18 × 14 1/2 × 1 in. (45.7 × 36.8 × 2.5 cm)
Type:
Floral frames
Date:
ca. 1860-1940
Period:
Victorian (1837-1901)
Description:
It was common for social or business organizations that the deceased was a member of to send flowers to the funeral in the nineteenth century. These included, friendly and fraternal societies, temperance leagues, social clubs, veteran’s organization, and worker’s unions, among others. The floral tributes were often set pieces patterned after the emblem of the organization or club. These emblems were an assemblage of symbolic shapes and colors that were meaningful to the organization. Depending on the size of the recreation, elements of the design might be added to subtracted while maintaining an accurate impression of the emblem. These were usually made with flowers and ribbons in the emblematic colors of the organization. These had to be recognizable, thus accuracy was important for the florist, each flower frame must be made to an exact shape and with the appropriate colors. In addition to the fraternal emblems recreated in flower frame designs, many of their symbols, or assemblages of multiple symbols recreated out of wire frames were also used for these floral arrangements. These designs were also used for organizational functions other than just funerals. Organizational emblem frames often comprised a significant portion of floral frame trade catalogs. Freemason emblems were the most frequently ordered flower frame designs from the florist. Freemasonry is the oldest and most influential fraternal society in the United States. Also known as the Masons, this society came to the United States in 1720, and many of America’s founding fathers were brothers in this fraternity. The mid-nineteenth-century Mason could also belong to many different auxiliary organizations such as the Knights Templars, the Shriners, and the Order of the Eastern Star each of which had flower frames representing their insignia. It was also the largest fraternal body in America and remains so to this day. The keystone flower frame given to Ancient Grand Master Freemasons. It usually featured the letters “H-T-W-S-S-T-K-S” arranged in circle, which was an acronym for “Hiram the Widow’s Son Sent to King Solomon. This assemblage is known as the Masonic Mark of an Ancient Grand Master. Additional designs for the Masonic ceremonies and funerals included the Masonic emblem, Maltese cross, Masonic Bible, banner, and scroll of honor.
Freemason emblems were the most frequently ordered flower frame designs from the florist. Freemasonry is the oldest and most influential fraternal society in the United States. Also known as the Masons, this society came to the United States in 1720, and many of America’s founding fathers were brothers in this fraternity. The mid-nineteenth-century Mason could also belong to many different auxiliary organizations such as the Knights Templars, the Shriners, and the Order of the Eastern Star each of which had flower frames representing their insignia. It was also the largest fraternal body in America and remains so to this day. The keystone flower frame given to Ancient Grand Master Freemasons. It usually featured the letters “H-T-W-S-S-T-K-S” arranged in circle, which was an acronym for “Hiram the Widow’s Son Sent to King Solomon. This assemblage is known as the Masonic Mark of an Ancient Grand Master. Additional designs for the Masonic ceremonies and funerals included the Masonic emblem, Maltese cross, Masonic Bible, banner, and scroll of honor.
Label Text:
Set pieces or set designs were among the most popular floral arrangements in the second half of the nineteenth century. The term set piece is a usually applied to designs in a wide variety of forms, which are often symbolic in character. Shapes that expressed an overall theme for an occasion were very fashionable, such as designs made to depict the profession, associations, or hobbies of an individual. These flower arrangements were ordered for special celebrations, holidays, weddings, and funerals. Typical of the Victorian style, these designs were elaborate and massive, but unlike other forms of flower arrangement, the set piece was exclusively made by the professional florist.
Set pieces were usually made up on wire frames in the desired shape, which acted as a foundation for the floral arrangement. Commercially produced, heavy-gaged wire frames, fabricated from either plain or copper-plated wire, became available for flower arrangements between 1860 and 1864. The retail florist business was enhanced considerably by the high demand for arrangements on flower frames in the nineteenth century, and wire frames quickly became the basis of the retail florist’s inventory. The frames could be obtained for little cost to the florist, and if he managed to retrieve the skeleton after the occasion, it could be reused. Wire frames came in both straight and curved outlines and either as a box (three-dimensional frame) or flat frame. Most designs came in several sizes and could be hung or placed on a stand or were free-standing. Standard forms in wire works catalogues ranged in size from 10 to 60 inches. Outside of the standard frame designs offered in wireworks and florist’s supplies catalogues, designs could be made for almost any occasion, with some large enough to make life-sized reproductions.
Over the course of the nineteenth and twentieth century floral fashions changed. Some set pieces faded in popularity by the early 1900s, but some remained favorites well into the 1940’s. Many of these same designs are still used today, but the wire frames have been replaced by shapes made from more modern materials to save the florists’ time in making up the arrangement, as well as providing water to the flowers allowing for greater longevity.
Topic:
emblems (symbols)  Search this
Floral frames  Search this
frame components  Search this
wire  Search this
associations  Search this
ceremonies  Search this
decorations  Search this
Floral Accessories  Search this
Floral decorations  Search this
floral designers  Search this
Flower arrangement  Search this
funerals  Search this
funerary objects  Search this
secret societies  Search this
societies  Search this
symbols  Search this
wirework  Search this
Credit Line:
Smithsonian Gardens, Horticultural Artifacts Collection.
Accession number:
1999.053.001-1999.053.002
Restrictions & Rights:
Usage conditions apply
See more items in:
Horticultural Artifacts Collection
Data Source:
Smithsonian Gardens
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/aq4d0b9f0a8-e329-42d5-a3f4-166e7c18f791
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:hac_1999.053.001-1999.053.002