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Catalog Data

27 × 18 1/2 × 1 1/2 in. (68.6 × 47 × 3.8 cm)
Floral frames
ca. 1860-1940
Victorian (1837-1901)
The anchor flower arrangement was difficult to arrange. It required tight work and precise outlining, or the shape of the flower frame would be lost. It was appropriate to send to the funeral of men or women of any age. Anchors are symbolic of many things but was primarily associated with hope in the nineteenth century. The anchor was also an attribute of the allegory of Hope, who was one of the most popular allegories in both the home and the cemetery. The anchor was also the seaman’s last resort in the storm, and all his hopes for deliverance from the rough seas were placed in it. The characteristics of the anchor as a solid, heavy object whose weight held the ship secure made it symbolic of steadfastness and strength of character. Its ability to hold fast amid the pressures of whatever currents, also implied tranquility and faithfulness in the deceased. Many fraternal emblems also incorporated the anchor into their insignia, and anchor flower frames were often given by fellow members of an organization. The anchor was often used in its capacity of a marine symbol for boating as well, and it was given to members of the sailing profession, the navy, and the coast guard. Flower frame designs of national symbols and emblems of the military branch of the fallen celebrated their patriotism at the funerals of active military and veterans. Often flowers the same color as the American flag were employed in arrangements, such as roses, carnations, and cornflowers to create that patriotic red, white, and blue color scheme. Nationally symbolic designs such as anchors, American flags, eagles, and many other designs were also displayed in shop windows and at ceremonies for holidays such as Independence Day and Memorial Day. These designs remained popular into the twentieth century.
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.
emblems (symbols)  Search this
Floral frames  Search this
frame components  Search this
wire  Search this
anchors (watercraft equipment)  Search this
armed forces  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
weddings  Search this
wirework  Search this
Credit Line:
Smithsonian Gardens, Horticultural Artifacts Collection.
Accession number:
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Horticultural Artifacts Collection
Data Source:
Smithsonian Gardens