Mid 19th century American Mourning wreath made of hair.
For the past few months I have been helping a friend in the French Quarter put items up on ebay and price there vast collection of antiques, In exchange for my time, I'm working for antiques in trade. A month ago the first item joined the collection of the le château de Hopkins. A 1850's American sentimental/mourning wreath made of hair. Hair is one of the most unique and personal mementos people can give of themselves. Although taking hair and weaving it into sentimental pieces has been done for hundreds of years as a way to remember a loved one, it was the Victorians who took the idea and crafted it into an art form. Since I was a child and saw my first woven hair wreath in a museum, I have been fascinated with them and hair jewelry.
A mourning wreath could be made up of one member’s hair or a composite of an entire family. As family members died, hair was saved in a “hair receiver.” When enough was accumulated, the hair was fashioned into flowers and leaves by twisting and sewing it around shaped wire forms. A family hair wreath was a way of telling about the family and its history; the same way a family tree indicates who members of a certain family are and their relationships, today. The open-end at the top of the wreath symbolizes the deceased’s ascent to heaven. Wreaths were then placed in shadow boxes and displayed with the open end up, like a horseshoe. This wreath has handwritten names and number that corresponds to the different family members.