Victorian Women & Their Bling: Wilhelmina

Today's forgotten woman is Wilhemina.  Her kind eyes and soft face suggest a lovingly maternal style.  Though not well off her life was probably comfortable.

When I first saw this photo of Wilhelmina I couldn't help but think of the English actress Barbara Flynn as Mrs Jamison in the BBC miniseries Cranford.  They look like they were separated at birth--a sister from another mister. (we'll have to see if that phrase catches on)

 I can see that Wilhelmina is wearing black, jet beading which is quite lovely but the detail that excited me most was when I enlarged the pin to see what it was.  It's a bee!

Victorians gave meaning to everything so I set about finding what a bee might signify.  It was not as simple as I thought but I felt it was safe to defer to the experts at The DuMont Estate Jewelry Blog when they write:

"During Victorian times, bees were incorporated in many jewelry items to symbolize inspiration and love. The physical attributes of the bee parallel the strength and determination of lovers overcoming obstacles. The sweetness of its honey mirrors mankind’s capacity to see goodness after moments of unpleasantness. The busy bees work tirelessly during their lifetime to provide for their family while leaving flourishing life behind them." 

Well you know that sort of goes along with my initial impression of Wilhelmina--kind, loving, maternal.  What obstacle did she and her lover overcome though?  Perhaps family was against the match and the young lovers eloped and went on to have a successful life together.  Or, maybe Wilhelmina kept bees and sold her honey in the local grocery store.  Then again Wilhelmina may have been a Beatrice.  You can see where I'm going.

I like her.  I feel like her house would have smelled like a bakery.



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