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Catalog Data

Medium:
Silver, gold, agate, mother of pearl
Dimensions:
6 × 1 3/4 in. (15.2 × 4.4 cm)
Style:
Renaissance Revival
Type:
Bouquet holders
Origin:
Great Britain, possibly
Date:
ca.1830-1920
Period:
Victorian (1837-1901)
Description:
Gilded metal bouquet holder with agate stones and mother of pearl handle. The funnel-shaped vase is comprised of four panels each set with two oval agate stones surrounded with with pierced scrolling motifs. A looped clip attached to the middle of the vase allowed the holder to be attached to garments. Two short lengths of chain are attached to the side of the vase. The first attaches to a floral pin, which would be inserted through the vase to pierce the stems of a bouquet in order to secure the flowers inside the holder. The second chain would have terminated in a ring. 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. The stick-stem handle is made from tapered 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.
Label Text:
Flowers used for personal adornment were a popular fashion accessory throughout the 1800s up to the mid-1900s. Carrying or wearing fresh flowers was an important aspect of not only fashion but of good breeding and refined tastes. Corsages worn by women and boutonnieres worn by men were essential elements of dress for the tasteful upper- and middle-class Americans and Europeans at social functions. Many wore flowers whenever they were in public, including President McKinley, who wore a carnation in his lapel every day. In 1840, Queen Adelaide, wife of King William IV of the Great Britain and Hanover, introduced the fashion of tucking a small posy into a high waistband or sash, and Queen Victoria popularized the bouquet holder as seen in her portrait at the opera painted by E.T. Parris in 1838. By the 1830s carrying and wearing 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. Some had a pin or clip attachment that allowed it to be worn on the clothing. These bouquet holders were usually light weight, so not to strain the garment. Similar holders were made for men to attach to their lapels and are often referred to as a boutonniere vase. Bouquet 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:
agate  Search this
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.1987.131
Restrictions & Rights:
CC0
See more items in:
Horticultural Artifacts Collection
Data Source:
Smithsonian Gardens
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/aq4c4cad573-f2eb-4eec-b1ce-61d083a893d4
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:hac_FJP.1987.131