Saturday, March 18, 2017

Tussie-Mussie, Nosegay, Porte Bouquets or Posy Holders

              Folding tripod holders for conversion to table use first appeared in 1840

In earlier times, it was fashionable for women to carry a small bouquet of flowers.  These small bouquets had several different charming and endearing names. The term tussie-mussie was used as early as the 1400's to mean a small bouquet of flowers and herbs carried by woman that often conveyed a hidden or symbolic meaning.  The term nosegay was used in the sixteenth century to mean an ornament or scent that appealed to the nose. The term posy was used in the Victorian era and Victorian women of fashion carried these small bouquets in elaborate exquisitely designed holders.  Posy holders were made in a variety of shapes using precious metals, ivory, mother-of-pearl and semi-precious stones.

 Garnets, bloodstones, amethysts, sardonyx, moonstones, opals and turquoise semi-precious stones,  silver and gold and ivory handles

Bouquet holders were usually one of four shapes; a short cup with a pencil thin stem, a trumpet shaped funnel tapering to a terminal loop, a cornucopia, and a variety with a folding tripod to permit the holder to stand up on a table.  A strong pin running across the mouth of the cup through perforations drilled in the sides kept the bouquet in place.  This design allowed the flower arrangement to be worn at the waist, in the hair or secured to the bodice with a brooch. 

Left to right: gold, pearls with mother-of-pearl handle, gold filagree with mirror and mother-of-pearl handle, miniature portrait of bride and groom (one on each side) with  mother-of-pearl handle, gold breads with ivory dance cards and mother-of-pearl   handle, painted porcelain funnel with mother-of-pearl handle

Most often the bouquet holders were carried attached to a finger ring by a chain, this allowed the bouquet to dangle at the wrist while  its wearer danced.  Sometimes the holder contained a tiny mirror, this allowed the wearer to look inconspicuously at a prospective beau.  The flowers contained in the bouquet held symbolic significance. A red rose centered in a bouquet was a declaration of true love while ivy in bouquet might indicate that the wearer was looking for a platonic friendship only. There were many books written in the Victorian era to help decipher these symbolic meanings.  Today a tussie-mussie holder is difficult to find and usually demands a high price.

From left to right:  Russian silver cornucopia, Chinese filigree silver , hollow handle carved ivory, Victorian silver repossee, Victorian silver with bird etching, English silver funnel shape 1833, 2 1/2" silver cornucopia

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