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Catalog Data

Medium:
Gilded brass, mother of pearl
Dimensions:
6 × 2 in. (15.2 × 5.1 cm)
Style:
Gothic Revival
Type:
Bouquet holders
Date:
ca.1830-1920
Period:
Victorian (1837-1901)
Description:
Gilded brass bouquet holder with mother of pearl handle. The four-sided vase is stamped with a pierced screen of small flowers connected by linear elements. Bars across the top of the screen form the lip and meet at are architectural ornaments at the corners. The bottom corners are covered by curved fleur-dis-lis stamped with floral motifs and a large sphere is center between each below the screen. Near the top of the vase are two holes opposite one another for the floral pin. The looped end of the pin attaches to length of round link chain connected to the bottom of the vase. The pin would be inserted through the vase to pierce the stems of a bouquet in order to secure the flowers inside the holder. The neck, which connects the vase to the handle, is formed from multiple parts with an ornate openwork ring over-hanging a baluster on top of a band stamped with floral decoration on a background of vertical lines. The spindle handle is made from turned mother of pearl. 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. Near the bottom, a band encircles the handle and connects a flat figure-8 ladder chain ending in finger ring with a stamped exterior. The ring would allow the bouquet holder to be worn from the finger or on a chatelaine at the waist to free the lady's hands while dancing.
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
mother of pearl  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.1987.045
Restrictions & Rights:
CC0
See more items in:
Horticultural Artifacts Collection
Data Source:
Smithsonian Gardens
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/aq4eb5a37b2-ecba-45b2-8c5f-c585daf3f65a
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:hac_FJP.1987.045