Skip to main content

Bouquet holder or bud vase, bird motif

Object Details

Date
ca.1830-1920
Period
Victorian (1837-1901)
Description
Small glass bottle with yellow enameled bird on branch with blue flowers and leaves. A white mesh ribbon is tied around the neck.
Label Text
Flowers used for personal adornment were a popular fashion accessory throughout the 1800s up to the mid-1900s. Carrying or wearing fresh flowers was an important aspect of not only fashion but of good breeding and refined tastes. Corsages worn by women and boutonnieres worn by men were essential elements of dress for the tasteful upper- and middle-class Americans and Europeans at social functions. Many wore flowers whenever they were in public, including President McKinley, who wore a carnation in his lapel every day. In 1840, Queen Adelaide, wife of King William IV of the Great Britain and Hanover, introduced the fashion of tucking a small posy into a high waistband or sash, and Queen Victoria popularized the bouquet holder as seen in her portrait at the opera painted by E.T. Parris in 1838. By the 1830s carrying and wearing small bouquets of flowers in decorative holders was an established fashion accessory of the upper class and royalty of Europe. These small accessories, also known as posy holders, ‘porte-bouquets,’ and ‘bouquetiers’ were both decorative as well as useful. By providing a water source in the bottom of the receptacle, they were able to keep the flowers fresh throughout an occasion, and they also protected the wearer’s gloves or clothing from being stained by the plant pigments. Some had a pin or clip attachment that allowed it to be worn on the clothing. These bouquet holders were usually light weight, so not to strain the garment. Similar holders were made for men to attach to their lapels and are often referred to as a boutonniere vase. Bouquet holders were copied and mass produced in a variety of sizes, materials, and embellishments. During the second half of the nineteenth century, holders might be commissioned or purchased from the stock at a jeweler or florist shop. Few were made in the United States, instead they were usually imported from Europe and Asia. They were often given as a commemorative memento of historic encounters or events by the royalty and courts of Europe, but they were also used to celebrate and commemorate important, though less prestigious, events of the wealthy and middle class. Bouquet holders reached the peak of their popularity between the 1830s and 1880s, but it began to dwindle as bouquets of long-stemmed flowers (the latest horticultural development) loosely tied with ribbons surpassed the posy bouquet style. They were not totally out of fashion until the “Roaring Twenties,” when such objects became regarded as trivial and useless. The diversity of styles and mechanisms of bouquet holders is evidence of their longevity as a fashion accessory.
Topic
bouquet holders
bouquetiers
glass
porte-bouquets
porte-fleurs
Posy holders
ribbon
tussie-mussies
costume accessories
decorative arts
fashion
Victoriana
See more items in
Horticultural Artifacts Collection
Credit Line
Smithsonian Gardens, Horticultural Artifacts Collection. Gift of Frances Jones Poetker.
Data Source
Smithsonian Gardens
Accession number
FJP.1987.099
Type
Bouquet holders
Vases
Restrictions & Rights
CC0
Medium
Glass, ribbon
Dimensions
2 1/2 × 1 1/4 in. (6.4 × 3.2 cm)
GUID
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/aq446b9f5b2-b2e7-487c-9492-cde1c32d75a2
Record ID
hac_FJP.1987.099
Back to Top