Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Simply Wonderful Find......

I found this hair memento album at a show a few weeks ago, and have been thoroughly captivated by the charming collection of "locks and tresses" lovingly collected by the owner. Unfortunately, I do not have the name of the girl who endeavored to, it appears, catalogue keepsakes of ribbon-adorned locks of hair of family members and friends.
The album itself, is French in origin and simply beautiful to behold with an applied medallion of gilded and embossed flowers and vines surrounding the central figure on its very colorful calico paper front cover.




Inside, we are captivated by the family record contained within. On the first page, and continuing on to the second are (I would venture to guess) the locks that represent the maker's family for we have listed "Father, Mother, Walter, Emma, Abbie, Nellie, Georgie, John & Lizzie.


Continuing on we find the locks of Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles, cousins and friends. There is even a white lock labeled "Mrs. Andrews, 100 years old", as well as a lock from a visiting friend from Germany.

The origin of preserving the hair of loved ones is centuries old, and was usually done as a way to honor and remember the dead. This was mostly done by placing it in a specially crafted piece of jewelry.

Such jewelry was also fashioned into love tokens given by the living to a paramour who may be going off to battle, on a long trip or just as a reminder to be kept close to the heart.

In the 19th C it became a form of fancy work that was done by schoolgirls and young women as keepsakes and mementos of friendship. The pieces that we find today are as varied as their makers: friendship albums filled with finely worked hair pieces as well as water-color art;single leaves of paper fashioned into hands holding hearts entwined with tresses; verse-filled albums;beautifully documented family pieces; as well as those simply filled with locks of hair.

They are a glimpse into the maker's life, a document of her family and friends to be passed through generations to give the viewer a small window into that life and, in that instant, she is as real to the world again as if she were standing beside them.

I've yet to decide what I will be doing this piece, although I am adding a new page to the website called "Ephemera, Books and Interesting Paper" so I just might save it for sale there.

In the meantime, if you have not already done so, I recommend that you read "On Women and Friendship: A Collection of Victorian Keepsakes and Traditions" by Starr Ockenga. Not only is it well written, but it contains beautiful photographs of all manner of charming keepsakes, including hair mementos.

7 comments:

  1. What a most lovely treasure to have come acrossed. I don't think I have ever seen another like it. From the front cover to the treasured locks and tresses inside. Simply BEAUTIFUL.
    Thank you for the recommendation to read "on women and friendship" I' have to run out this weekend and get a copy.
    Thank you for sharing both,
    Julie

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  2. Any hand assembled album is always a great treasure to be had. it's someone's voice echoing into the future. it's a desire to connect with the ones we cannot with : future generations. The one you found is so unique, and personal. Love that!

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  3. Anne, I always thoroughly enjoy my visits to your blog~ it's so well-appointed and always informative...and your pictures are just beautiful!

    thank you for a continuing job well-done.

    Blessed be!
    Lori
    Notforgotten Farm
    Amherst, VA

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  4. Your blog is fantastic-I enjoyed my visit.

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  5. What an exceptional find and it was even better in person. Lovely to see you again!-- Susan

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  6. I really love your blog. It's so informative!

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