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Catalog Data

Medium:
Wire
Dimensions:
24 × 21 × 18 in. (61 × 53.3 × 45.7 cm)
Type:
Floral frames
Date:
ca. 1860-1940
Period:
Victorian (1837-1901)
Description:
The Bible was a popular adaptation for funeral flower frames. A book in mourning symbolism represented a scholar, the Bible, or the Book of Life. This floral tribute was meant to call attention to the deceased person’s religion and be a testament to their beliefs. The book ranged in sizes and might be open or closed. It often included a ribbon book marker with a favorite verse on it. The Bible was sometimes combined with other floral frames, such as the wreath or cross. It was a suitable design for any age individual of the Christian faith, both male and female. The book flower frame could also be interpreted as the Book of Life. In the Christian tradition, the Book of Life was a ledger of the deeds of the righteous and contained the names of those who would be granted entrance to Kingdom of Heaven. This flower frame was a favorite device for chronicling the name of the deceased, or the open page could also be inscribed with "He Giveth His Beloved Sleep", "I Know That My Redeemer Liveth", and "He Giveth Victory.” When portrayed with an open book, the design was appropriate for the funeral of any Christian. However, when closed, this design represented a completed life, and was, therefore, more suited to the elderly. In addition to the name, a popular inscription for the Book of Life could be “Finis.”
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
holidays  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:
1999.073
Restrictions & Rights:
CC0
See more items in:
Horticultural Artifacts Collection
Data Source:
Smithsonian Gardens
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/aq48aa61ed3-8a59-4f57-bda1-be3e9eb34d7f
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:hac_1999.073