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Wire frame, G.A.R. badge

Object Details

See more items in
Horticultural Artifacts Collection
Date
ca. 1860-1940
Period
Victorian (1837-1901)
Accession number
1999.065
Description
It was common for social or business organizations that the deceased was a member of to send flowers to the funeral in the nineteenth century. These included, friendly and fraternal societies, temperance leagues, social clubs, veteran’s organization, and worker’s unions, among others. The floral tributes were often set pieces patterned after the emblem of the organization or club. These emblems were an assemblage of symbolic shapes and colors that were meaningful to the organization. Depending on the size of the recreation, elements of the design might be added to subtracted while maintaining an accurate impression of the emblem. These were usually made with flowers and ribbons in the emblematic colors of the organization. These had to be recognizable, thus accuracy was important for the florist, each flower frame must be made to an exact shape and with the appropriate colors. In addition to the fraternal emblems recreated in flower frame designs, many of their symbols, or assemblages of multiple symbols recreated out of wire frames were also used for these floral arrangements. These designs were also used for organizational functions other than just funerals. Organizational emblem frames often comprised a significant portion of floral frame trade catalogs. After the Civil War, soldiers from both the Confederate and Union armies established veteran’s organizations, with similar services and activities as those of fraternal and benevolent societies. The largest and most important of these groups was The Grand Army of the Republic, or GAR, established in 1866. Their ceremonies, rituals, and symbolism were based on the Masonic model. In addition to providing companionship and recreational activities, the GAR was instrumental in the establishment of soldiers’ homes, lobbying for soldiers’ pensions, and the national holiday and day of remembrance, Memorial Day, on May 30th. Membership in the GAR was restricted to honorably discharged veterans of the Union forces who served between April 12, 1861, and April 9, 1865. At its height membership in the GAR grew to 409,000 members, which included five U.S. presidents. Because of its restrictions on membership, the GAR was founded with “built-in extinction.” The last member of the GAR, Albert Woolson, died in 1956 at the age of 109 years. The GAR was so popular that floral frame manufacturers included their insignia in their catalogues and design albums. Nationally symbolic designs such as GAR badges, American flags, eagles, and many other designs were displayed in shop windows and at ceremonies for holidays such as Independence Day and Memorial Day. Flower frame designs of national symbols and emblems of the military branch of the fallen celebrated their patriotism at the funerals of active military and veterans. Often flowers the same color as the American flag were employed in arrangements, such as roses, carnations, and cornflowers to create that patriotic red, white, and blue color scheme. Nationally symbolic designs such as GAR badges, American flags, eagles, and many other designs were also displayed in shop windows and at ceremonies for holidays such as Independence Day and Memorial Day.
After the Civil War, soldiers from both the Confederate and Union armies established veteran’s organizations, with similar services and activities as those of fraternal and benevolent societies. The largest and most important of these groups was The Grand Army of the Republic, or GAR, established in 1866. Their ceremonies, rituals, and symbolism were based on the Masonic model. In addition to providing companionship and recreational activities, the GAR was instrumental in the establishment of soldiers’ homes, lobbying for soldiers’ pensions, and the national holiday and day of remembrance, Memorial Day, on May 30th. Membership in the GAR was restricted to honorably discharged veterans of the Union forces who served between April 12, 1861, and April 9, 1865. At its height membership in the GAR grew to 409,000 members, which included five U.S. presidents. Because of its restrictions on membership, the GAR was founded with “built-in extinction.” The last member of the GAR, Albert Woolson, died in 1956 at the age of 109 years. The GAR was so popular that floral frame manufacturers included their insignia in their catalogues and design albums. Nationally symbolic designs such as GAR badges, American flags, eagles, and many other designs were displayed in shop windows and at ceremonies for holidays such as Independence Day and Memorial Day. Flower frame designs of national symbols and emblems of the military branch of the fallen celebrated their patriotism at the funerals of active military and veterans. Often flowers the same color as the American flag were employed in arrangements, such as roses, carnations, and cornflowers to create that patriotic red, white, and blue color scheme. Nationally symbolic designs such as GAR badges, American flags, eagles, and many other designs were also displayed in shop windows and at ceremonies for holidays such as Independence Day and Memorial Day.
Flower frame designs of national symbols and emblems of the military branch of the fallen celebrated their patriotism at the funerals of active military and veterans. Often flowers the same color as the American flag were employed in arrangements, such as roses, carnations, and cornflowers to create that patriotic red, white, and blue color scheme. Nationally symbolic designs such as GAR badges, American flags, eagles, and many other designs were also displayed in shop windows and at ceremonies for holidays such as Independence Day and Memorial Day.
Label Text
Set pieces or set designs were among the most popular floral arrangements in the second half of the nineteenth century. The term set piece is a usually applied to designs in a wide variety of forms, which are often symbolic in character. Shapes that expressed an overall theme for an occasion were very fashionable, such as designs made to depict the profession, associations, or hobbies of an individual. These flower arrangements were ordered for special celebrations, holidays, weddings, and funerals. Typical of the Victorian style, these designs were elaborate and massive, but unlike other forms of flower arrangement, the set piece was exclusively made by the professional florist.
Set pieces were usually made up on wire frames in the desired shape, which acted as a foundation for the floral arrangement. Commercially produced, heavy-gaged wire frames, fabricated from either plain or copper-plated wire, became available for flower arrangements between 1860 and 1864. The retail florist business was enhanced considerably by the high demand for arrangements on flower frames in the nineteenth century, and wire frames quickly became the basis of the retail florist’s inventory. The frames could be obtained for little cost to the florist, and if he managed to retrieve the skeleton after the occasion, it could be reused. Wire frames came in both straight and curved outlines and either as a box (three-dimensional frame) or flat frame. Most designs came in several sizes and could be hung or placed on a stand or were free-standing. Standard forms in wire works catalogues ranged in size from 10 to 60 inches. Outside of the standard frame designs offered in wireworks and florist’s supplies catalogues, designs could be made for almost any occasion, with some large enough to make life-sized reproductions.
Over the course of the nineteenth and twentieth century floral fashions changed. Some set pieces faded in popularity by the early 1900s, but some remained favorites well into the 1940’s. Many of these same designs are still used today, but the wire frames have been replaced by shapes made from more modern materials to save the florists’ time in making up the arrangement, as well as providing water to the flowers allowing for greater longevity.
Credit Line
Smithsonian Gardens, Horticultural Artifacts Collection.
Topic
emblems (symbols)
Floral frames
frame components
wire
armed forces
associations
ceremonies
decorations
Floral Accessories
Floral decorations
floral designers
Flower arrangement
funerals
funerary objects
holidays
secret societies
societies
symbols
wirework
Medium
Wire
Dimensions
31 1/2 × 16 1/2 × 1 1/2 in. (80 × 41.9 × 3.8 cm)
Data Source
Smithsonian Gardens
Restrictions & Rights
CC0
Type
Floral frames
GUID
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/aq4e3001536-35a0-4140-a9da-932aab83fd9c
Record ID
hac_1999.065
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