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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Victorian Women & Their Bling: Maude

And then there's Maude...

 or rather Matilda but Maude for short.  Her hair is grayer than it appears--her thin lips, thin eyelashes and photographer's inexpert removal of lines around her eyes all suggest Maude is a matriarch-- wise and sweetly wizened.  Yes, it can happen--the sweetly wizened bit.  I'm counting on it.

 I'm sure she did her own needle work and lovely it is at that.

Her earrings don't appear to have a stone for certain but if they do I reckon it to be a garnet.

In any event, she's lovely and quite likely to have been a beauty in her day.


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Victorian Women & Their Bling: Josephine (Jo)

Josephine (Jo)-- the son her father never had.  Jo is the complete opposite of Kitty.  Jo has no interest in frilly collars or covered buttons and she’d happily cut all her hair short if she could.  But she can’t, so she styles it as no-nonsense as humanly possible given the parameters for feminine, Victorian hair.  Her bangs are so widely cut with a hint of side burn that you almost don’t notice there actually is a tight knot of the rest of her hair in the back.

Her neck pin is as modest as her personal style.  Fashion dictates a pin to fasten her top tight but Jo can make it as utilitarian as she likes and she does.  Small and tasteful--completely adequate to the job.

It could have some diamond chips but it is just as likely to have only an etched motif.

Jo was kind and sharp witted.  She never met her match but was not bothered in the least.  She took care of her parents in their old age and was a superbly doting aunt to her sister’s seven children.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Victorian Women & Their Bling: Kitty

Kitty is a darling.  She would totally be a scrap booker today given her eye for detail.  I'll bet she was a very much a "lace-on-everything" sort of decorator.  I'm certain her house was full of doilies and  tatted trimmings on all her antimacassars.  Don't you feel like her house would have been saturated in dried flowers and hues of pink?

Funnily, she is not wearing a drop of jewelry.  Kitty's style is just her joie de vivre and winning smile.  It was no accident the matte surrounding her photo is covered with floating cherubs.  I think she was loud in a sweet way--if that's possible.  I just think her laugh would be one known to all proclaiming her arrival before the front door was yet to be opened to her.

 On closer inspection, it is entirely possible that Kitty is wearing a wedding ring but, if she is, it blends with skin tone.  She may also be wearing a brooch on her right shoulder or a string of beads around her neck.  One things for certain is that she is holding something in her angel-clasped hands.  Is it a hankie, a love letter, a teeny tiny kitten?


Monday, February 6, 2012

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.


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Victorian Women & Their Bling: Sophia

 You won't be surprised to learn that we have a little box full of photos of whom nothing is known except that we are not related.  They came down the Lucas side of the family from Alvah Burns who married in through Belle Lucas (our great-grand aunt). The couple was childless together but I think Alvah did have  children.  Though just yesterday I was saying divorce was unheard of back in the day, the fact is Alvah was divorced and I think even his parents were too because I have letters that suggest it.  The result of these altered branches is now my shoebox of someone else's ancestral photos--mostly women.

I've decided to acknowledge these forgotten women by sharing their photos and discussing their styles.  I begin with Sophia (not her real name to my knowledge). But doesn't it suit?

Sophia strikes me as Mediterranean in her style and coloring.  Just another war widow or simply staunchly religious--it's hard to tell?  Her accessorizing sends a few different messages.  The lace in her hair echos the idea of a Catholic mantilla to me but what reinforces the idea of her religion is the size of the 4" cross around her neck.  And it's not that, the size of the chain looks like something Sid Vicious would have worn in the heyday of Punk Rock.  She's not planning on losing her religion anytime soon--no weak links there.  But what throws me for a loop is the ostentatious size of her earrings.  They suggest youth and a desire to be noticed.  We can't know the color for certain but the stones look jet to me and could mean mourning except, again, the size is crazy for mourning.  Her dress is not very stylish and I'm thinking the ruffle around her neck is detachable and can be used on any frock.

How old do you think she is? My guess is 40 at most but with a hard last 5.  I wonder why she chose to get this photograph?  "Hey world, I'm here"?

Lace comb or pseudo mantilla?

Look at the size of that chain!

As compared to the style worn by Sid I right?

 Despite her Victorian seriousness, this woman is not yet old. Sophia is sad and beautiful. I can see her smiling though--just after the photo is snapped and she is free to relax her pose.

Home Remedies

One of the dubiously fabulous things that have been handed down to us are the many scraps of paper and newspaper clippings of home remedies.  I thought I ought to begin sharing some of the ones my family thought merited preserving.

Personally, I'm not thoroly convinced of this remedy's efficacy.

Filed under "I'll tell you what you should have done,"  Nora pasted D.H. James' claim to cure Consumption on top of the death notice of poor Myrtie Eccles who died of the same.