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Catalog Data

Medium:
Gilded brass, mother of pearl, paste
Dimensions:
5 × 1 1/2 in. (12.7 × 3.8 cm)
Style:
Renaissance Revival
Type:
Bouquet holders
Origin:
France, possibly
Date:
ca.1830-1920
Period:
Victorian (1837-1901)
Description:
Gilded brass vase with blue stones. The vase of the bouquet holder is formed with four repeating panels. Each panel is ornately designed with ‘S' and ‘C' scrolls and is ornamented with a blue paste stone that is prong-set atop a ring of circles elevating each one. It connects to the handle at a stamped band with a four-dot-and-crescent design that encircled by six small, stamped leaves drooping downward. The straight handle is made of turned mother of pearl in a deep pinkish-purple hue. Mother of pearl handles retained a cool feeling longer than some other materials; because of this, they were said to be appropriate for warmer months. A golden keyhole-shaped loop around the bottom of the stem attaches to a round-link chain and decoratively stamped finger ring. This feature is most likely a later addition that would allow the bouquet holder to be worn on the finger or attached at the waist to a chatelaine.
Label Text:
Flowers used for personal adornment were a popular, almost mandatory, fashion accessory in the nineteenth century. Small bouquets, called nosegays, posies, or tussie mussies were carried by debutantes, matrons, and girls, and they were a popular gift in the mid to late 1800s among friends and suitors. They were typically created in concentric rings of flowers, tightly wound together, and were often tied with ribbon or placed in a bouquet holder depending on the tastes and fashions. By the 1830s carrying small bouquets of flowers in decorative holders was an established fashion accessory of the upper class and royalty of Europe. These small accessories, also known as posy holders, ‘porte-bouquets’, and ‘bouquetiers’ were both decorative as well as useful. By providing a water source in the bottom of the receptacle, they were able to keep the flowers fresh throughout an occasion, and they also protected the wearer’s gloves or clothing from being stained by the plant pigments. Queen Victoria helped popularize the bouquet holder, and she is seen holding one in her portrait “Queen Victoria at the Drury Lane Theatre, November 1837” painted by E.T. Parris. When the fashion of carrying hand bouquets in decorative holders caught the fancy of the wealthy and middle class, holders were copied and mass produced in a variety of sizes, materials, and embellishments. During the second half of the nineteenth century, holders might be commissioned or purchased from the stock at a jeweler or florist shop. Few were made in the United States, instead they were usually imported from Europe and Asia. They were often given as a commemorative memento of historic encounters or events by the royalty and courts of Europe, but they were also used to celebrate and commemorate important, though less prestigious, events of the wealthy and middle class. Bouquet holders reached the peak of their popularity between the 1830s and 1880s, but it began to dwindle as bouquets of long-stemmed flowers (the latest horticultural development) loosely tied with ribbons surpassed the posy bouquet style. They were not totally out of fashion until the “Roaring Twenties,” when such objects became regarded as trivial and useless. The diversity of styles and mechanisms of bouquet holders is evidence of their longevity as a fashion accessory.
Topic:
bouquet holders  Search this
bouquetiers  Search this
brass (alloy)  Search this
gilding  Search this
mother of pearl  Search this
paste (glass)  Search this
porte-bouquets  Search this
porte-fleurs  Search this
Posy holders  Search this
tussie-mussies  Search this
costume accessories  Search this
decorative arts  Search this
fashion  Search this
Victoriana  Search this
Credit Line:
Smithsonian Gardens, Horticultural Artifacts Collection. Gift of Frances Jones Poetker.
Accession number:
FJP.1987.019
Restrictions & Rights:
CC0
See more items in:
Horticultural Artifacts Collection
Data Source:
Smithsonian Gardens
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/aq4972fdf2d-123c-46f4-a48d-d04216f88c52
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:hac_FJP.1987.019