Unfortunately I haven’t mastered photographing things that flash back at you but I thought you might be interested in seeing some old hair jewellery which I’ve inadvertently collected over the years. I say inadvertently because I never set out to collect stuff, I bought one because it was pretty, historical and of course a bargain. Then at some point I repeat the experience and this is the upshot.
If you read classic literature you’ll have read about such things and although in Victorian times mourning jewellery was very popular because of Victoria’s penchant for remaining in deep mourning for her Albert, people also used hair as love tokens, which is what these teeny brooches were originally.
They are only about half an inch or an inch at most in length and they would have been used for attaching a piece of lace to a neckline which is why they’re often called lace pins, or sometimes women used them for attaching ribbons to bonnets. If you look carefully you can just see some of the hair which is woven into a design and placed underneath the glass front. The metal frame is probably just a cheap version of gold but it looks like the real thing and you can tell the early Georgian ones by the length of the pin, they always protrude quite a bit over the end of the brooch frame. Sometimes they have inscriptions on the back and dates, presumably celebrating a wedding or engagement.
I love them because they’re so wee and perfect and part of history, although I’ll never know the story behind any of them I know that the hair inside was snipped off in a moment of high romance and I hope that things didn’t go downhill after that!
As you can see I’ve pinned these ones to a piece of padded velvet and put it into a frame which had no glass. It’s an easy way of displaying brooches or just keeping them out of harm’s way as things tend to get damaged when they are all jumbled up together in jewellery boxes.
Next time I’ll show you some Victorian mourning jewellery which like most things from that era is built on a larger scale, and the hair is twisted into very ornate patterns. I’ll have to practice with my camera first.
Mind you hair jewellery does tend to freak some people out, I have no idea why that should be because it seems that a large proportion of women are walking about with other women’s hair attached to their skull – now that would freak ME out!