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Victorian Scraps and Locks

Jennie Lovell's scrapbook.

IN 1864, FUN & GAMES meant something very different from what it does today. Young people were pretty isolated, in that there was no wireless or bandwith connection that hooked you up to a world much bigger than what you saw out your front door. If our seventeen-year-old heroine, Jennie Lovell, wanted to do more than pray and pine for her fiancé and knit socks for the war effort, there wasn’t a lot to divert her.

She did, however, have her scrapbook—which is also the anchor of our story. And Jennie was not alone. Scrapbooking was a popular diversion in her era, and it was useful, too, providing a means of collecting and archiving photographs, letters, newspaper clippings, calling cards and dance cards. Sometimes poetic or philosophical quotations and intimate gifts from friends might make it into the scrapbook. For a time, even locks of hair were used, for sentimental value. The hair might be woven into anything from a picture border to a bracelet.

And now that we’ve arrived on the rather unnerving subject of human hair for use in art and jewelry, here’s bit more on that:

“Appealing to the tendency among Victorian women to incorporate the importance of friends and family into their work, hair served as a tangible remembrance of someone. Often, close companions exchanged hair as tokens of friendship. Hair was also sometimes taken after a person’s death as a means of honor and remembrance.”

—Helen Louise Allen Textile Museum

From Lisa’s personal collection: a Victorian mourning brooch with woven hair.

From Lisa’s personal collection: an antique mourning hair necklace or watch fob.

Personal reactions to hair art aside, Victorian-era scrapbooks remain a fascinating time capsule, and a step into any paper/stationary store today is evidence that scrapbooking continues to delight new generations of archivists.

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One Response

  1. [...] Victorian mourning brooch [...]

    Victorian Hair Art | Pafos Photos

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