Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Mystery Item Revealed!

It is called a Tussie Mussie, a Posey Holder, Nose Gay, or a Porte-Bouque.

The names are different, but they are the same thing - a small, cone shaped flower holder that holds a very small bouquet. 

 I'm sure you're wondering what does "tussie-mussie" actually mean?

The word "tuzzy" refers to the Old English word which means a "knot of flowers". 

Muzzy refers to the damp moss wrapped around the stems to keep them moist.

Before the invention of "posy holders" the flowers did not last long and were cumbersome during dining or dancing.

Jewelers rivaled one another in making these holders.

Many were quite ornate and there was a wide variety of shapes and styles.

This antique lady’s accessory usually was made of silver or other metals.

 Most had a finger ring that allowed the Posey Holder to dangle while ladies attended to other duties. 

 There were two styles of the "tussie-mussie" - formal and informal.

The formal nosegays had concentric rows of flowers with a rose or other fragrant symbolic flower in the center.

Rows of flowers, leaves and herbs formed tight rings around this central flower.

Informal "tussie-mussies" were more casually arranged, most often with just a wrapping of lace and ribbon around the flowers themselves. A long pin held the flowers in place.

Victorians studied the language of flowers or Florigraphy with passion.

The "tussie-mussie" reached great popularity as a means for lovers to convey secret messages of sentiment and affection in a prim Victorian society. 

 The meanings associated with certain plants, herbs and flowers goes way back in time and are rooted in mythology, religion and medicine.

Contributing to the meanings of flowers were legends, folk tales, meanings influenced by poetry and literature (especially Shakespeare).

The actual physical traits of plants and flowers that are universally recognized, as well as original meanings given by early authors were faithfully adhered to.

Some flowers and their meanings:

• Basil – Best Wishes;
• Rose – Congratulations, Love;
• Ivy – Friendship;
• Lavender – Success, Luck and Happiness;
• Three Leaf Clover – The Holy Trinity;
• Mint – Warmth of Feelings;
• Pansy – Loving Thoughts.

Even the scent and color added meaning. 

 Flower appreciation (sometimes formally known as The Language of Flowers) was a course offered in Ladies finishing schools.

It was very important for that young lady to know the meaning or the message behind the flowers that her admirer sent.

The flower language books also served to promote a keen interest in botany.

There were also practical reasons for a lady to carry a tussie mussie beyond a love of flowers. 

 Personal hygiene was not a priority and public sanitation was poor. A walk down the city street was much like a walk down an open sewer.

Women would hold these tiny, fresh nosegays close to their faces to sniff the fragrant leaves and mask the odors of their surroundings.

Bosom bottles were tucked into the decolletage of a dress.

Tiny holders were also worn at the waist, in the hair, or secured with a brooch. 

Today, the "tussie-mussie" is a desireable antique with many made of sterling silver and semi-precious stones and can sell for upwards of $1000. 

I have to admit that when I checked them out on ebay I was shocked at their value.

As for my humble little find, I have no idea what it is worth and if it is even sterling silver but it is quite precious to me nonetheless.

I hope you enjoyed learning the history of the "tussie-mussie" as much as I have.  

*History and text from The Victorian Journal


Kathysue said...

Very interesting. I love learning about the history of items we no longer use on a daily basis. Fun post,
xo Kathysue

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Leslie said...

I've never seen these before! :) Such a perfect gift for a lady.

Enjoy your weekend!


kim at northerncalstyle. said...

Really enjoyed this! I learned so much!

Happy weekend!

Karena said...

Fascinating Terri; I had no idea and the details and history are so interesting!

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