The Lady in Black: c. 1911

la veuve widow anderson zorn 1883

La veuve, Anders Zorn

The Lady in Black

It was several years previous to the great war. I and my son were redecorating part of the inside of a six-roomed villa, on the outskirts of the town of B__. It had been previously tenanted by a widowed lady and her daughter. The daughter died—the lady sold everything, and gave up possession, and went away to America, so I was told, about two or three weeks before we began work. One day we were just starting work after the dinner hour when a knock came to the front door. The door was opened by a tall lady dressed in very deep black; a thick crepe veil covered her face. In a distinct voice—with a sob in it—she said to me, “Excuse me, but may I go up into the room where my dear daughter died?”

“Yes, madam, certainly,” I said. Without another word she turned to the staircase and walked up as any ordinary person would, and, on the landing, turned to the right, entered a bedroom and shut the door. I furtively watched her by going half up the stairs, saw her enter the room, and heard the door shut. We went on with our work—I at the foot of the main staircase in the front part of the little hall, my son about ten or twelve feet away at the back of the hall. We talked of the strangeness of the affair as we thought she was in America. We could hear her walking about the room, and wondered what she could be doing. She had been there three-quarters of an hour when the moving about ceased, and there was perfect quiet. And so another quarter of an hour passed and we began to get uneasy. We were just contemplating whether we should go and see if all was well when, suddenly, there was a thud as if a heavy body had fallen on the floor. We looked at one another for a second or two; my son turned pale, and I said, “She’s fainted—or perhaps it’s a case for the coroner.” We both together hurried up to the room. We listened—no sound. I spoke—no answer. Then I rapped on the door panel—no answer. Cautiously I turned the door knob and peeped in, but saw nothing. Both of us entered—the room was quite empty.

There were two windows—but neither had been opened and both the sashes were fastened. We went into all  the other rooms and hunted every corner, but found nothing. It made such an impression on us that we were very glad when the work was finished and we got away. The house became uncanny to us. We often have spoken about it since, but have never heard of the “Lady in Black,” as my son calls her. He can substantiate all I have said; it’s just a simple account of what happened and perfectly true in every detail, as God is my witness. But what I, or we, would like to know is—was it a real woman or a wraith—or what? Also, how did she leave that room? Certainly not by the windows—nor door—nor staircase.

Uncanny Stories Told by “Daily News” Readers, S. Louis Giraud, 1927: p. 55-6

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: A strange story. One wonders if, years later, when the villa was demolished, the skeleton of a woman, shrouded in the tatters of a black veil, was found beneath the floorboards.

Mrs Daffodil has also written about the Woman in Black (and her opposite number, the White Lady) as a Royal omen of death.

That subfusc person over at Haunted Ohio has frequently written about the terrifying Women in Black–are they mourners? are they malefactors prowling about in the dark? Or are they ghosts?

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdote

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

 

 

Summer Hats of Lavender and Heather: 1909

immortelle hat 1910

1909 straw hat with flower trim–possibly some heather. This hat belonged to Miss Heather Firbank. http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O139721/hat-henry/

Summer Hats of Lavender and Heather.

But from across the Atlantic comes a real novelty, nothing more or less than hats woven from lavender stalks and twigs of Highland heather. Those familiar with English gardens know the lavender color shading to gray-green of the sterns of the sweet-scented lavender flower, arid no one who has seen the Scotch heather can forget its exquisite coloring. Some clever person evolved the idea of weaving these shrubs into hat shapes, so we now have hats made of the stems of lavender and of twined heather:

The lavender hats at first glance appear to be woven of rather coarse silvery straw, but on looking closer it is seen that the stalks of the lavender bush are woven in and out, forming the shape.

They are woven when the lavender is fresh picked and the stems pliable: afterward they are dried, when the stalks become hard and tough, not brittle. By some process the little bud-like flowers of the lavender are preserved, and these are used as trimming, sprays of them being poised in osprey form at one side. They have rather the effect of dried fancy grasses, and are most attractive. Pale lavender satin ribbon put around the crown in folds and tied in a smashing bow at one side, the lavender flowers pulled through the center loop, is a favorite trimming for these novel hats. Most fragrant these hats are, and need no sachet bags tucked into the crown to perfume them.

The hats made all of heather are quite as fascinating and more delicate in effect. The little mauve bells of the heather are used as trimming, the shape itself being covered with the brown mossy stems. Usually the model chosen for a heather hat is of fairly small size, with high crown and not too wide brim. Then a wreath of the heather blossoms is laid around the crown, or the crown itself is woven of sprigs of heather bearing the little flowers, and the trimming is of mauve-colored ribbon. If some of the rare white heather can be obtained to use in trimming it is considered particularly desirable, but it must be the real thing, picked on the moors, not grown in a conservatory, or no good luck will come of it.

St. Louis [MO] Globe-Democrat 20 June 1909: p. 54

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Lavender, in the Victorian language of flowers, symbolises “devotion,” although it may also signal “distrust,” based on a legend that the fatal asp was brought to Cleopatra in a basket of lavender.

White heather, of course, is considered a lucky talisman:

Happy is the married life of her who wears the white heather at her wedding…Every Highland knows that white heather brings rare good luck to the finer, and that the luck can be passed on to his friends….They say in the far north that when the sheep, hardy devourers of the tender stem of the heather, come across it in their grazing, they avoid harming it, and that the grouse have never been known to crush it with their wings…On great occasions the table of a Highland chieftain would be poor indeed without its sprig of white heather. When the heir-presumptive reaches man’s estate he wears it for luck, and it is considered the height of hospitality to present it to the stranger guest.

The Star [Saint Peter Port, Guernsey England] 28 July 1885: p. 4

Mrs Daffodil regrets that she has not been able to locate a contemporary photo-gravure of these fascinating objects. They sound quite delightful–save for one caveat: these fragrant hats will, inevitably, draw bees. A few sprigs of marigold, geranium, or basil tucked among the flowers should repel these useful, yet unsettling, insects.

 

 

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdote

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

Mrs Daffodil Takes a Holiday

the mermaids fan 1900

While she cannot go to the sea-side for a paddle, Mrs Daffodil will be taking a brief holiday. She wishes all of her readers health, safety, and sunshine.

 

 

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

 

A Tired Housewife’s Plea to the Summer Visitors: 1886

lake view at Chautauqua 1891

THE SUMMER VISITORS.

AN IMPOSITION TO WHICH COUNTRY FOLKS ARE LIABLE FROM “FRIENDS.”

A TIRED HOUSEWIFE’S PLEA

A Moving Tale, Commended to the Attention of Thoughtless People.

Special Correspondence of The Times.

Chautauqua, N. Y., July 28.

“I tell you,” said a resident in the vicinity of Chautauqua Lake, “if you want to make study of human nature you should come to our house and spend the summer. You see, since this lake has come to be such a popular resort everybody is crazy to get here. If they have any relations or acquaintances living within a radius of ten miles from the lake they are pretty sure to pay them a visit. One young lady I know of makes it a point every year to visit her second cousins. By going from place to place she managed to spend the whole season in this way.

“Last summer, wishing to locate herself on the Chautauqua grounds, that she might better enjoy the advantages there offered, she borrowed the tent of one relative, beds and bedding of another and by boarding herself, with the help of frequent baskets of provisions gleaned from outside friends, managed to live very economically. One woman living in a Western city found by chance that she had some cousins–removed to the third and fourth degree–living in this locality. Securing the address of one of them, she wrote as follows:
“’I have just learned that I have relatives residing in the vicinity of the lake. I would like to visit them, in company with my two daughters, who have always had a great desire to see Chautauqua. Be kind enough to send me a list of their names by return mail.’

CROWDS OF THEM.

“Why, actually,” he continued, “we entertained people in our house last summer whom we had never seen or heard of before. One lady from Now York came here in company with an aunt of mine and tarried with us three weeks, during the Chautauqua season–that is, she took her meals and lodging here; the rest of the time she was on the lake or at Chautauqua. Well, they kept coming from July to September–my relatives, near and distant, and my wife’s acquaintances and old school friends, most of whom she had not met in years, till at length she gave up sick, literally worn out waiting upon her throng of guests. We thought perhaps they would leave then; but no, they hung on till the season closed. Of course we had no opportunity of attending the services ourselves, as our company takes our time and strength to our utmost limit. I do not know how many guests we shall have to entertain this season,” concluded the victim, with a deep-drawn, long-suffering sigh; “they have not sent in the annual list of names yet.”

“Do not your friends leave some pleasant reminder of their visit, with you?” inquired his sympathetic listener. “Well, yes,” he replied, with a bitter laugh; “one lady on her departure presented my wife with an old linen duster and another gave my daughter a pair of half-worn gloves, too shabby for her own use, with the remark that they would do for school gloves.”

“Don’t think we are inhospitable,” he added, with a dismal attempt at a smile. “We enjoy entertaining our friends when they come to see us, but we do not like to have our home turned into a boarding house every summer.”

ENJOYING THE COUNTRY.

Another resident of Chautauqua county, who lives near the lake shore, said the other day: “There seems to be a feeling prevalent among some of our city people that we who reside in the country are a very fortunate class of individuals, having nothing to do but enjoy the ‘odors of clover and new-mown hay,’ and swing in hammocks from dawn till dark. Presuming upon this idea they take it upon themselves to favor their country relatives with lengthy visits. and manage by going from place to place to pass the entire summer in this manner and thus save board bills at expensive watering places.

“If you are fortunate to live near a summer resort like Chautauqua Lake, for instance, your pleasant country home is flooded every season by uncles, aunts, cousins and chance acquaintances by the score, many of whom you have not met in years, and most of whom you never think of visiting, who come from their city homes on cheap excursion rates to live on your hospitality, without money and without price, during the hot months of July and August.

“These self-invited guests care little for your society. The main object of their visit is to enjoy the interesting services held on the Chautauqua grounds; and these, together with boating, driving and excursions on the lake, occupy their whole attention, while you are sweltering in the little kitchen, bending over the hot stove, preparing meals for their healthy appetites, thus forfeiting your whole summer’s recreation and pleasure.

PRIVILEGES OF THE HOSTESS.

“They seem to forget that you, too, would enjoy the morning ride or the jubilee concert. A lady visitor once said to us, as she swept into our kitchen one August morning, arrayed in the most, elegant of traveling costumes, all ready for a trip on the lake:

“‘What a fine view of the water you have from your kitchen window. I should think you would enjoy washing your dishes and watching the steamers pass and repass.’

Yes, we did enjoy it, with the temperature at ninety degrees in the shade, the natural heat of the little kitchen increased by the hot fire we were obliged to keep to provide for the hungry visitors who would flock around our dinner tables with appetites sharpened by a “lovely ride ” they had enjoyed on the lake. Truly, it is delightful to look on and listen to the praises of the excellent lecture, reading or concert they had listened to at Chautauqua that morning (probably the very entertainment you had selected from the programme as the one you wished most to attend), to feel that you have no part or lot in all these good things, save to provide for the inner man, to remain at home day after day and bake and brew tor the hungry multitude of friends (?) who will surely appear at meal time, unless, indeed, you have been “kind enough to put up a little lunch.”

If you live some distance from the boat-landing it is no small task to see that your guests are conveyed there dally, as they seem to expect. We have no street cars or such city conveniences to depend on, and if you chance to own one good old family horse, the light single carriage can carry but two or three at a time, thus necessitating several trips, which occupies considerable time.

We have no bakers to rely upon in case of unexpected company and we recollect one occasion when, instead of the family of four, we were surprised by a company, numbering eleven to spend the day with us. Had it not been for the kindness of a neighbor the poor housewife would have been compelled to bake on no small scale.

A poor, hard-working woman said to us not long ago:

“I had bought a season ticket on the boats this summer and intended to enjoy it, but I have just got word that my cousin, his wife and two children, including a peevish teething baby, are coming to spend the summer with me. They want to get away from the city, it is so sickly there.”

IN SELF-DEFENSE.

One family we know of, people In good circumstances, have, in sheer self-defense, taken to keeping boarders (although they would much prefer the privacy of their own family), as they were so overrun with summer visitors as to be obliged to deny themselves all privileges. One of their many guests was a woman, who half a century before had been for a brief time a playmate of the host’s, and therefore came uninvited and unexpected to demand hospitality on the score of old acquaintanceship.

We call to mind one minister’s wife, a frail little woman, whom we “ran in” to see one hot July morning and found her just tired out and sick. She told us she had been entertaining for the past two days a woman, a perfect stranger to her, who had come to visit her on the strength of having heard her husband preach once, some years ago. Instead of going to one of the many boarding houses which are plentifully scattered along the shores of our beautiful lake, our city friends, many of them, who chance in any way to have acquaintances living near the lake, inflict themselves upon them during the very season when leisure is most desirable to enjoy the rare privileges which come but once a year. The farmer’s wife, unlike her city sister, is deprived of the many concerts, lectures and other pleasant literary entertainments which form so pleasant a feature of a winter in the city.

We speak plainly, for we feel deeply on this subject. The above is not a fancy sketch, but is drawn from actual experience and is the voice of score of tired, overworked housewives on the shores of our lake. Do not think us inhospitable; we enjoy entertaining company who come to see us, not those who come merely as a matter of convenience and stop at our house as they would at any ordinary hotel (minus board bills). We all have friends, those near and dear to us, bound by the ties of long association and whom it is a pleasure and a delight to entertain; but we often find it impossible to do this on account of our self-invited guests, who occupy our time, tax our strength and try our patience, and when at length the season is over and the last carriage load of summer visitors disappears around the corner and we see a kindly wave of the hand or hear a cool “Come and see us when you can,” the overtaxed strength and strained nerves give way and a long sickness and a correspondingly heavy doctor’s bill winds up the season, then we are forced to believe that “Charity begins at home.”

We would simply ask that justice be done to farmers and their families, including country people generally.

L. M. C.

The Times [Philadelphia PA] 25 July 1886: p. 7

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil wonders why, if previous summer visits have rendered his wife sick from over-work, that resident in the vicinity of Chautauqua Lake does not locate his spine and tell those thoughtless visitors that the familial boarding house is no longer open for business. She understands that one does not wish to alienate near relations, but surely a tactful plea to be excused on the grounds of an unsafe well or a typhoid outbreak would have some effect, even on the most insensitive. One might need to resort to actually poisoning the breakfasts of the more obtuse guests to drive home the point, but doing so, as long as no actual fatalities occur, will guarantee the unhappy householder visitor-free summers for many years to come.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdote

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

The Secret Honeymoon: 1898

an english honeymoon 1908

FADS DON’T GO WITH HIM.

He Had a Taste of Latest and He is Cured.

Fell Info a Trap Which a Revengeful Rival Had Planned for Him.

Cost Groom Something to Change His Route, but He Paid Cheerfully.

“I don’t go very much on these new fads in the line of weddings,” said the bridegroom, cocking his feet on the desk of the insurance man and lighting a fresh cigarette. “I’ve just been up against the game, and I’ll stake any body to my part of it next time.”

“What are you talking about?” asked the insurance man. “What do you mean by new fads in weddings?”

“Well, I’ll tell you my troubles and you can figure It out for yourself,” said the benedict. “You see, some daffy guy framed up a game some place or other where the fads come from for what is known as a ‘secret honeymoon.’ The bride and groom are not to be wise to where they are going until they are on the train after the ceremony. The best man is the whole works and does everything for them. He selects a route, buys the tickets, checks the baggage, frames it up with the hotels and gets everything ready for one round of pleasure. Then the tickets and a letter of instructions are put in a sealed envelope and dealt out to Mr Sucker, the bridegroom, and he opens it on the train and goes wherever the best man has things arranged. Now what do you think of that tor a nutty scheme?”

“That is certainly very much foolish house,” admitted the insurance man. “If the best man wanted to gently josh you along the line he couldn’t do a thing under that scheme.”

“Well maybe you think he didn’t, said the bridegroom. “Wait till I tell you. They kept on shooting a bunch of hot air into me about this game and what a good thing it was and how novel it was, that they finally got me to stand for it. I don’t know what kind of hop I was against when I said all right but this fellow Haskins, who was framed to pull off the deal certainly had me conned. I was a little bit daffy anyhow, you know, as a man is likely to be just when he is going to be married, and I thought it would be a grand little plan and it was me to it.

“But it’s no more for me, not if I get married eight times more. It’s me for the little details and all the plans next time. Old Mr Haskins is a good thing and this was the only chance he had to jolly me. As a matter of fact he used to be pretty well stuck on this girl I married and I guess he thought he was there until I got in the running and then he wasn’t 1, 2, 46. But any how, he pretended to be the real glad-hand friend when he heard I had things settled, and it was nobody but him for the best man at the doin’s, and then he springs his funny game on me about the secret honeymoon.

“I let him go ahead and frame every thing up, and I congratulated myself that I wouldn’t have to worry about train time and hotels and Niagara falls and other things, as the average bridegroom does. He got me the tickets and everything, and I got his little old sealed envelope and the wife, and I tore for the rattlers all in good shape after the ceremony. When I got her nicely seated in the parlor car I went into the smoker, a little bit nervous, to see what Haskins had framed up for me.

“O, but he was there with the goods strong! ‘Get off at Albion and go to the Pararzoom house,’ says Mr Sealed Instructions. And I spent the next three hours wondering what Albion was like and whether the Pararzoom house had money enough to buy fly screens. Of course Edith and I were not especially anxious to tip off to the mob that we had just been married. Every couple feels that way, I suppose, and I know I was willing to keep dark for a while and make a bluff that we were celebrating our golden wedding.

“Well, about 7 o’clock In the evening we pulled in at a little old bum wooden station with a big sign ‘Albion’ all across the front of It. I didn’t get wise on the jump that we were on a lobster, but I piled out with Edith on my arm and the porter carrying a wagonload of grips. A coachman steps up to me as soon as I got off and says:

“‘Mr Amschasm?’

“I says ‘Yes.'”

“’This is your rig, sir,’ he says. Well, I thought that was pretty fair for a starter, and we got in, me handing Haskins a little mental compliment for his thoughtfulness about the rig. Just then I heard a band playing the ‘Wedding March’ from ‘Lohengrin.’ I thought I was dopey first, and that it was only a memory, but around the corner of the station came the Albion silver cornet band, and it fell in right ahead of our carriage. I was wise in a minute.

“Edith was ready to jump out and take to the woods, but I managed to make the driver stop while about 200 rubbernecks gathered around us. I helped Edith out of the carriage, and we hustled for another one, while the crowd sent up three cheers for the bride. I was sore enough to have shot Haskins if he was there, and I told the driver to take us to the best hotel in town. He whipped up and in a few minutes we walked into a hotel.

“As soon as I registered the clerk turned around and handed me the key to the bridal chamber. It was decorated with white ribbon, and he smiled a knowing smile as he laid it before he. I wanted to strangle him, but I took the key and went upstairs. The room was about 10 feet square, low ceilinged and hot. There was no screen in the window, and I could see my finish in there. I went back to the clerk and made a large roar, but he said it was the best room in the house and had been especially ordered for me.

“’When does the next train leave here?’ I asked.

“’Quarter after 1 tomorrow morning,” he said, with a bow and a rub of the hands which drove me frantic.

“‘Well I’ll take it,’ I said. ‘I don’t want your clothes closet up there.’

“We gathered up our baggage and were driven back to the station, and there I fixed it up with the station agent to wire to the division headquarters and hire me a special car and engine to take me Cincinnati. It came all right and It cost me $125, but we got out of Albion. The next morning I carefully tore up Mr Haskins’ letter of instructions, got a lot of time tables and framed up a little wedding tour of our own, and I’ve been looking for him ever since. I understand he has enlisted.”

The Boston [MA] Globe 2 October 1898: p. 37

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  The embarrassing ordeal of the honeymoon for both bride and groom was well recognised. If they went directly to their own home, they were apt to be serenaded in the night by neighbours with horns, banging pots, and celebratory gunfire. If they went on a wedding tour, every porter, hotel clerk, and waiter easily identified them as newlyweds and grinned a knowing grin.

The ideal was to pass for an old married couple on a little holiday jaunt–it was axiomatic that “no one tries to look so experienced as a brand-new bride”but this did not always work:

And when a honeymoon couple are trying to pass themselves off as married folk of long standing, and a shower of tell-tale rice, descending from a pocket or a suddenly-opened umbrella, gives the whole show away, the result is embarrassing.

Taranaki [NZ] Daily News 23 October 1909: p. 4

The reality was more often like this gentleman’s experience:

Will not the postboy, the fly-driver, the landlord, and the chambermaids pursue him with commiseration?…Brisk, cheery, bald-headed old gentlemen, utter strangers to you, shake you by the hand; elderly and excellent dowagers, with no claims on your friendship, take a warm interest in you — perhaps one will utterly confound you with a smacking kiss — and away you are jostled out of the passage, across the pavement, bundled into the carriage, slippers shied at your head, and amid the cheers of the company, the jeers and hurrahs of all the butcher boys, costermongers, and little urchins of the neighborhood, hey! presto! you’re on your honeymoon, minus one glove, and your hat backside foremost….As to Fred [the bridegroom]…he wishes all this parade over. Of course every one is smiling, and can see he is a foo — bridegroom….. Draw up with a very sudden halt at first-class entrance Paddington Station, porters twig in a moment, require no whistling now — bran’ new boxes, and “Both of ’em rigged out in new clothes; I say, Bill, here’s a wedding….”

And thus after a month’s bliss, a sweet honeymoon and the consciousness that they have been stared at and detected throughout the length and breadth of the land, the “happy couple” return to the quietness of their new little — their own home, to receive the congratulations of their friends, and the calls of their acquaintances. Bella is contented and happy, Fred himself again, thoroughly glad that the ordeal of the honeymoon has been passed, and that the world can now recognise his new position without staring at him, and without thinking him a — well, without thinking him a bridegroom.

North Otago Times 15 March 1872: p. 4

 

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdote

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

The Wedding Ring: History and Superstitions

THE WEDDING RING

Wedding rings have been worn in all ages; but no information respecting their origin can be discovered. It is known they were used by the ancient Greeks and Romans; but their use was then at the ceremony of betrothal, and not marriage. Pope Nicholas, writing of the ninth century, says that the Christians first presented the woman with espousal gifts, including a ring, which was placed on her finger; the dowry was then agreed on ; and afterwards came the nuptial service. These rings of the Romans were made of various metals, as iron, brass, copper, and old; and while betrothal and marriage were distinct, the rings were ornamented; but when formal betrothal became obsolete, the marriage ring took a plain shape, as at present.

The ancients wore the betrothal ring, as now, on the next least finger of the left hand. Many reasons are assigned for this, as the erroneous idea that a vein or nerve went direct to the heart, and therefore the outward sign of matrimony should be placed in connection with the seat of life: the left hand is a sign of inferiority or subjection: the left hand is less employed than the right, and the finger next least the best protected. At one time, it was the custom to place the wedding ring on the right hand of the bride. The Anglo-Saxon bridegroom at the betrothal gave a wed or pledge, and a ring was placed on the maiden’s right hand, where it remained till marriage, and was then transferred to the left.

During the times of George I. and II. the wedding ring, though placed upon the usual finger at the time of marriage, was sometimes worn on the thumb, in which position it is often seen on the portraits of the titled ladies in those days. It is now absolutely necessary to use a ring at the English marriage service. The placing of the ring on the book is a remnant of the ancient custom of blessing the ring by sprinkling holy water in the form of a cross. This is still done by the Roman Catholic priest. The Puritans attempted the abolition of the ring. The Quakers don’t use a ring at the service because of its heathenish origin; but many wear them afterwards. The Swiss Protestants do not use a ring either at the service or afterwards.

Rings have not necessarily been made of gold, in order to be used in the English service. They may be of any metal or size. At Worcester, some years ago, a registrar was threatened with proceedings for not compelling the use of a gold ring. At Colchester, at the beginning of this century, the church key took the place of the ring; and this has been the case elsewhere. A story is told of a couple going to church and requesting the use of the church key. The clerk, not thinking it lawful, fetched a curtain ring, which was used at the ceremony. The Duke of Hamilton was married at Mayfair with a bed curtain ring. Notes and Queries of October 1860 relates the cutting of a leather ring from the gloves of the bridegroom and the use of it at the service. An Indian clergyman stopped a wedding because the ring contained a diamond; and in Ireland all rings except plain gold ones are rigidly forbidden.

One of the earliest forms of rings was the gemel or gimmal ring. It was a twin or double ring composed of two or more interlaced links, when the two flat sides were in contact, the links formed one ring. Mottoes and devices were often engraved on the inner or flat side. At the time of betrothal, it was customary for the man to put his finger through one hoop, and the woman through the other. They were thus symbolically yoked together. The links were then broken, and the two kept a link until the marriage. Some gimmal rings with three links were made for the purpose of a witness keeping the middle one. There is a gimmal containing nine links still in existence. A old one given by Edward Seymour to Lady Katharine Grey had five links and a poesy of his own composition.

The Exeter Garland, written in 1750, contains:

A ring of pure gold she from her finger took,

And just in the middle the same then she broke;

Quoth she: ‘As a token of love, you this take;

And this is a pledge I will keep for your sake.’

Wedding rings, also, were not always worn plain, the common emblem being clasped hands or hearts. Two silver-gilt rings were used for the marriage of Martin Luther and Catherine von Borga. Luther’s ring is still in Saxony, and bears the following: ‘D. Martino Luthero, Catherine v. Borga, 13 Junii 1525.’ The other is in Paris, and has a figure of Christ upon the cross, and the Latin inscription as above. On the ring given by Henry VIII. to Anne of Cleves was inscribed, ‘God send me well to kepe,’ in allusion to the fate of Anne Boleyn. Lady Cathcart, on her fourth marriage in 1713, had the following: ‘If I survive, I will have five.’ Dr John Thomas, Bishop of Lincoln, 1753, had a similar inscription.

Many superstitions attach to the wedding ring, probably arising from the Roman Catholic custom of its receiving the blessing of the priest before putting it on. In Ireland, the rubbing of the ring on a wart or sore was sure to cure it; also, the belief still remains that by pricking a wart with a gooseberry-bush thorn through a wedding ring it will gradually disappear. In Somersetshire they say that a sty on the eyelid may be removed by the rubbing of the ring. The Romans believed a peculiar virtue lay in the ring finger, and they stirred their medicines with it. Another superstition is that if a wife lose her ring, she will also lose her husband’s love; and if she breaks it, the husband will shortly die. Many married women would not remove their rings, for fear of the death of their partners. As old saying is, ‘As your wedding ring wears, your cares will wear away.’

Chambers’s Journal, 6 February 1892: p. 95-6

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  To be Relentlessly Informative, the more common spelling of the rings pictured is “gimmel,” from the Latin gemellus or twin. And Frau Doktor Luther came to her marriage as Katharina von Bora, rather than a member of some cadet branch of the Borgias.

Let us have a few more wedding ring superstitions:

In Northumberland, the young girls prepare for the May feast the May syllabub, made of warm milk from the cow, sweet cake and wine. Into this a wedding ring is dropped, for which the girls fish with a ladle. Whoever gets it will be married first. Encyclopaedia of Superstitions, Folklore, and the Occult Sciences, Cora Linn Morrison, Daniels, Charles McClellan Stevens, 1904: p. 1541

A Wedding Ring Superstition.

A Yorkshire lady told me that, having lost her wedding ring from her finger, she had been told by the wise people of the place that she must on no account permit her husband to buy her a new one, but that her nearest male relatives must pay for the fresh ring and give it her. Notes and Queries 1 July 1882: p. 9

It is regarded as most unlucky is the wedding ring slips off the finger of the newly married wife either through accident or carelessness; another superstition is that when the wedding ring has worn so thin as to break in two, the woman or the husband will die, that the wedding ring and married life wear away pari passu. [“with even step.”] Perhaps, we have here an answer to the often-asked question of modern days, ‘Why do ladies encumber themselves with such heavy wedding rings?’ Traces of the Elder Faiths of Ireland, William Gregory Wood-Martin, 1902: p. 45

And, finally

HE FORGOT THE WEDDING-RING

A story has come to light regarding a former Earl of Crawford, Colin by name, who married a relative of the Prince of Orange. The lady, Mauritia de Nassau, was a very beautiful woman, and having fallen in love with the then-Earl of Crawford a marriage was arranged. But when the wedding day arrived and the bridal party were assembled at the church no bridegroom was forthcoming. A messenger was despatched in hot haste to fetch the missing earl, who was found at his house enjoying a late breakfast, attired in dressing gown and slippers, completely oblivious to the fact that it was his wedding day. Hurriedly dressing, the earl rushed off to the church, and the service began. In the middle of the ceremony he discovered he had forgotten the ring. This want being hastily supplied by one of the guests the marriage proceeded.

At the end of the ceremony the bride, glancing at her hand, saw to her unutterable horror that the ring with which she had been wedded was a mourning ring with skull and cross-bones on it.

“I shall be dead within a year!” she shrieked, and fainted dead away. Her words came true, and the earl himself had a most unlucky life.  North Otago Times, 31 July 1909, Page 2

Other wedding superstitions may be found in this previous post on bridal superstitions, as well as this one on bridesmaids’ superstitions, and royal wedding superstitions.

 

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdote

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

Wedding Gown Contretemps: 1901

A June Bride

JUNE BRIDES AND FINE WEDDING GOWNS

Some of the Experiences That Have Befallen Some Young Women on Their Wedding Day.

They were discussing June weddings and June brides in the last box in the pavilion at Lake Harriet and the sound of their voices rose softly above the two-step with which Sorrentino and his men in red were bewitching their hearers.

“I know for a positive fact,” declared the first young woman, “that the reason Molly was half an hour late for her own wedding was that the dressmaker did not send home her gown until after the time announced for the service. Molly was nearly frantic and was almost ready to start in a last summer’s dimity when the messenger arrived, breathless and cross. The dressmaker tells a good story, but it does not tally with the messenger’s.”

“I wish you could tell me why a dressmaker has such an antipathy to sending a wedding gown home before it is time for the bride to wear it,” asked the second young woman, shaking the pop corn from her skirts. “Molly is not the only bride who has spent her last unmarried moments acting Sister Ann from the hall window, and no Bluebeard was ever more relentless than the woman who made the organdie that was causing so much anxiety and confusion.”

“Perhaps she is afraid the bride will try on the gown if it is sent home early, and you know it is frightfully unlucky to try on a wedding gown,” ventured the third young woman, who was young, as the generous bag of taffy in her lap showed. “Zaidie tried hers on, you know, and spilt lemonade all down the front, and the gown had to be sent to the cleaner’s. Imagine being married in a cleaned gown!”

“Don’t confuse carelessness with ill luck,” advised her elders, “and don’t think the dressmaker is acting from philanthropic motives. Just what her reason is I haven’t been able to decipher, but I know that it is not the welfare of the bride’s future that guides her. When Rebecca went to see about her trousseau, she told her modiste that she was to be married a month earlier than she was, and the woman promised her clothes for early in May. Rebecca thought she was mighty clever, and everything would have been as she planned if she had not ordered her invitations of the same stationer that stamps the dressmaker’s note paper. The modiste saw the invitation at the shop, and work on Rebecca’s trousseau commenced to lag. Instead of getting her gowns early in May, Rebecca never received them until the day of the wedding. The dressmaker made one excuse after another for failing to send them home, although Rebecca declares that they were all finished, except hemming down a facing or two, at the promised time.”

“Minerva had a worse time than that. She ordered her gowns and the dressmaker drilled over them until two weeks before the wedding. When Minerva tried on the wedding gown in its embryonic condition she was discouraged. She did not like it and she would not be married in a gown she did not like. She suggested that certain alterations be made. The dressmaker refused, saying that the gown was made as Minerva had ordered it and she could not change it for the wedding. Minerva has Scotch blood in her veins and she refused to take any of her gowns unless the white mousseline de soie was change to suit her. The dressmaker threatened a law-suit. Minerva’s American blood wavered, but she is more Scotch than American and it was the former that gave her courage to say: ‘Sue!’ The dressmaker went a step further and threatened to bring suit on the very day of Minerva’s wedding. Minerva consulted a lawyer. He advised her to have as quiet a wedding as possible, to smuggle her clothes out of the house and to secrete her wedding gifts as fast as they arrived for fear the dressmaker might levy on them. Minerva changed her plans, packed her trunks at a neighbor’s and sent her presents out of the house almost before they had arrived. Those that came too late to be sent away, were artfully concealed among the family silver and cut glass. The wedding gown, procured from a second dressmaker, was brought into the house from a laundry wagon and the wedding took place with a very uncertain idea of how it would end. Minerva did not dare have her going away gown in the house and left in a shirt waist and old skirt. A friend carried the real traveling gown to the station and she changed there and took the train with a feeling that anticipation is greater than realization and that a wedding and a law suit were too much for one day. The dressmaker did nothing but disturb Minerva’s peace of mind, but she did that well.”

“Penelope had quite an interesting time with her wedding gown. It was sent home early, for a wedding gown, fully half an hour before the service. Penelope was all ready to don it and all of her feminine relatives hastened to help her take it from the box. You know Penelope, tall, slight and dark, just the style of a girl to wear white satin well and her gown was all of the stiffest, heaviest satin. You can imagine her amazement when she opened the box and found a love of an organdie, all ruffles and lace insertion. She gave a shriek which was echoed by all the feminine relatives, they screamed to the masculine relatives and the latter dashed out in mad pursuit of the messenger. It was one of the hottest of June days and outwardly and inwardly the masculine relatives were very warm as they finally persuaded the boy to stop. It. took some time to convince him that he had made a mistake and brought confusion and distress to two brides. Penelope lives somewhere south and the boy had taken her white satin gown to a fluffy little blonde up north and the minutes seemed hours until a change was effected and the guests downstairs wondered if the bridal couple had decided that a wedding would be a mistake and were gathering courage to confess.”

“Last summer one of the girls was married in a gown that was made for another bride and taken to her by mistake. Fortunately it fitted her, and, as the dressmaker did not send it home until the time of the service, it was that or an old gown. The real owner was not to be married until evening, and the afternoon was spent by one of the maids in trying to make the mull look as if it had never been worn.”

“And the moral of that,” said the girl  with the taffy, as she crumpled the bag and threw it over the railing, “is not to be married in June.”

“And the moral of that is not to be married at all,” retorted the girl with the popcorn. “The September and October brides have just as many hairbreadth escapes with their wedding gowns as those of June.”

The Minneapolis [MN] Journal 29 June 1901: p. 20

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: It is a curious quirk, this reluctance to deliver a wedding gown in a timely manner. One would think that the dressmakers would be eager to deliver the dress and receive their thanks and pay. Such things did not only afflict the June bride:

SUES FOR LAUGHTER HURTS.

Man Who Had to Wed in Old Clothes Blames Express Company.

Atlanta, Ga., Jan. 6. Forced to marry in a much-worn suit of business clothes, and embarrassed by the subdued but audible titter of the guests at the fashionable wedding in Ligonier, Ind., Walter Lathrop, a prominent business man of Atlanta, has filed suit for damaged against the Southern Express company, alleging the company contracted to, but failed to deliver his wedding outfit in time. The marriage took place, but Lathrop felt that the humiliation required amelioration of a financial kind. He declared in his petition that Ligonier was too small a place to buy another outfit and he did not have time to go to Chicago.

The Inter Ocean [Chicago IL] 7 January 1910: p. 6

He sued for $1000 damages. $200 for loss of clothes and $800 damages to his social standing for having to be married in a business suit.

There were a considerable number of superstitions–some contradictory–that daunted Victorian brides. Here are a few specifically relating to the dress:

Nor should a bride make her own wedding dress, if she would have the best of luck.

There is an old superstition that if the bride’s outfit was not paid for at the time of the wedding bad luck would affect one of the first little ones later.

It is said to be unlucky to begin making the wedding gown before the wedding day is named.

It is bad luck to try on the bridal costume of a girl friend.

Chicago [IL] Tribune 16 November 1919: p. 61

And, in Britain, bad luck is supposed to dog the bride who wears anything but a secret wedding gown. In 1960, some of the details of Princess Margaret’s wedding gown were “leaked” in the United States publication, Women’s Wear Daily, but she defied the superstition and wore the gown, which was, in all fairness, quite lovely.  Mrs Daffodil is quite sure that the turmoil of that marriage, which culminated in divorce in 1978, had nothing whatever to do with the reports on the gown just before the marriage.

 

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdote

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

 

 

The Dear Old Bear: 1896

 

THE DEAR OLD BEAR

He Was Not Polished Nor Fashionable, But He Was Clear Grit and Loveable.

From the Detroit Free Press.

They were a pair to attract attention as they walked into the great vaulted dining room, of the hotel and were seated at the same table with several others. He was a massive man with fine face, curling gray hair and an air of thorough self-reliance. She suggested his reproduction in the finer molds of womanhood, tall, graceful, without a shade of embarrassment and wonderfully beautiful. He looked as if he would feel easier in the uniform of a soldier or the negligee attire of a ranchman. She added an indescribable charm to her elegant clothes.

They had been eating but a little time when she touched his shoulder and he inclined his ear to catch some whispered words.

“That’s right,” he said, without any effort at concealment, “keep prompting me and I’ll acquire civilized methods in time. I had no idea I was eating with my knife.”

At this the handsome giant would have stopped, but two silly creatures opposite set up a laugh without any mirth in it, and he calmly proceeded while the daughter completely ignored all others:

“You know, Jude,” he said, “I never had much time to fool away with trifles. Fortune so favors some people that they have nothing else to do. But you understand what I have done, Jude, looking first after mother and then seeing that the little one she left me would have to ask no odds of the world.”

“Don’t discuss it here, dear.”

“But I will. If I have offended I will explain. I have eaten with a two-edged bowie knife in the saddle. I have squatted behind a dead horse with the bullets whistling around me, and eaten with a bayonet. I have seen times when I would have given all I was worth even for the privilege of eating with my fingers. But, Jude, while they say when I’m gone that I occasionally forgot and was guilty of using a knife instead of a fork, they can never say that I did a dishonorable act, deserted a friend or that any man would be quicker to jump between his daughter and any trouble that might threaten her.”

The polished old gentleman from the head of the table came around and shook hands. The elderly ladies introduced themselves. Now Jude is so absolutely the reigning belle at that resort that envy does not touch her, and he is “the dear old. bear worth a million” to the ladies, while all the men of business seek the benefit of his judgment.

The Times [Philadelphia PA] 9 August 1896: p. 28

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Mrs Daffodil wishes all of her readers who are doting Papas, a very happy Father’s Day.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdote

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

Folding Up the Mourning: 1891

MARY SPOTTSWOOD, OF ELMIRA.

 People are always interested in the breaking of a record, whether it be that of the steamer time across the Atlantic, or the number of days which a superfluous man can go without food and still continue his superfluity. So it is not strange that when it is announced that an Elmira young woman, twenty-four years old, has just been married for the fifth time, a demand for information concerning her should arise so loud that we cannot ignore it.

Before her marriage, two days ago, with the present incumbent, the lady’s name was Mary Mason. Space will not permit as to give her entire list of names, and thus run back to her maiden name–we can only say that her father was named Spottswood, and as Mary Spottswood she was known to her school-girl friends. She was bright and pretty, and later was well known in Elmira society.

Seven years ago, she contracted the marrying habit and has not yet been able to shake it off. A Tioga man named J. M. Coleman met Mary Spottswood and won her young heart So they were married in June, while the forward roses clambered up the veranda and peeped in the open windows at the redder roses of the cheeks of the bride. She was dressed in some sort of clinging white stuff, while the bridegroom wore the conventional black. Six months of wedded happiness rolled by, when the foolish Coleman stopped behind a vicious horse to look at the scenery. The horse knew the danger and switched his tail warningly, but still Coleman tarried and feasted his eye on the hill and dale. Then the horse kicked, and Mary Coleman put on her first mourning. But she did not wear it long, for mourning seems so out of place for a bride, especially when it is for a former husband.

Samuel Rucker, of Binghamton, came in seven months and claimed her for his own, and again the roses on the veranda envied those in her cheeks. Rucker was a butcher, and strong and healthy, and cautious as to horses, but the smallpox came, and he fell sick of it. His young wife nursed him faithfully, but one day she told the hired girl to go up stairs and to bring down the mourning. Mary Rucker was a widow after five short months of married life. But there was one slight consolation–how slight none may know–the mourning had not had time to go out of fashion.

And the same may be said of her wedding dress, for in a few more months Edwin Ailing, of Buffalo, threw himself at her feet, and hand in hand they went to the altar, while the girl packed away the mourning up stairs and the roses nudged one another in the ribs as they peeped in the window. Ailing lived a year, and it occasioned much quiet talk in the neighborhood. But one day he went into the bar to get a lemon, and a beer keg exploded and blew him through the ceiling. The faithful domestic had the mourning out before the Coroner arrived, for Mary Ailing was a widow. The dresses needed a little changing, owing to the lapse of time, but not much. And for that matter, the wedding dress had to be made over, too, because it was almost a year before Mary married again.

This time the bridegroom was named J. S. Mason, and he was from Brocton, and was a contractor. It is said that the roses did not take the trouble to peep this time, as it was becoming an old story to them, and the minister only looked in a moment and said, “Consider yourselves married,” and hurried away. The life insurance companies withdrew their policies on the life of J. S. Mason, and the honeymoon began. Fourteen months later he fell off scaffold. The fall was fatal He was five miles away from home, but in some mysterious way the hired girl felt that something was going to happen, and when the messenger came she was dusting off the mourning with a whisk broom. A dressmaker came that afternoon and fixed it over a little, putting in those high-top Gothic sleeves, and so forth, and again Mary Mason put it on.

She now announced that she should not marry again. She was still young, only twenty-two. She had always regretted leaving school so soon–she had left a year before her class had graduated–and now that she had seen her four poor, dear husbands in the only place where husbands can really be trusted, she determined to go back to school and finish the course. This she did, graduating with high honors. But after this was over the idea of marriage again occurred to her. Her schoolmates were marrying, why should not she do the same?

Joseph Armstrong, of Philadelphia, came and wooed her, and she consented. Two days ago, she became Mary Armstrong. The minister sent word that it was all right, and that he would call the next day with the certificate. The servant-girl folded up the mourning and put in some tar-camphor to keep away the moths for a few months. The bridegroom’s friends shook hands with him and sadly turned away. He is now busy arranging his business affairs. At the request of the bride he has made his will. She told him that this had been customary in the past, and he complied. New York Tribune.

The Kansas Chief [Troy KS] 2 April 1891: p. 1

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  To paraphrase Mr Oscar Wilde, to lose one husband may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose four husbands looks like carelessness–or worse. Certainly one cannot blame Miss Spottswood. She seems far too young and inexperienced to engineer a skittish horse, smallpox, an exploding beer keg, and a fall from scaffolding. If the four husbands had all succumbed to gastric trouble, one might rightly look askance. One does wonder, however, about the hired girl’s prescient brushing of the mourning clothes and Mrs Armstrong’s request for the “customary” will. Perhaps the best we can say of her is that she is, to use the vernacular, a “hoodoo.”

A feature of interest in this story is the packing away of the lady’s mourning. It is widely believed to-day that Victorians thought that keeping mourning in the house after the expiration of the mourning period was unlucky. The author of The Victorian Book of the Dead, an assiduous researcher into mourning customs, has been looking into the matter and assures was pleased to find confirmation in this otherwise melancholy story of bereavement that mourning was not always immediately discarded.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdote

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

 

 

Beads of Cherished Flowers: 1914

flower beads

Beads made of red roses. You will find complete instructions on how to make these beads at this link: https://feltmagnet.com/crafts/rose-beads

Beads Made of Fondly Cherished Memories the Latest Fad

New York, May 9.

That precious first bunch of violets and the wedding bouquet that followed it need no longer be thrown away. Not that it ever was of course. But it need no longer moulder between the leaves of the biggest wedding present book.

A little New York art student has discovered a process by which she can turn the flowers into beads. They retain their color and most of their fragrance. And they will never wear out, for they are as hard as china.

“I began experimenting during my Christmas vacation,” says Miss Louise Wood, the inventor who lives in Cranford, N. J., and attends the Cooper Union classes in design. “I had read about the orange blossoms in California but they came out black. So I began to experiment to find a substance that would harden the flowers and give them body without spoiling their color. My mother helped me and at last we found a sparkling substance that could be boiled up with the flowers, and turned them into a mass of dough. I worked this upon a bread board, kneading it like the most careful housekeeper. Then I moulded the beads in the palm of my hand, some round and some pear-shaped. They were baked on pins to make them hard and give the opening to string them.

“I combined them with real beads, crystal of the same shade as the flower beads, to heighten the artistic effect. Sometimes I used contrasting colors. It was hard to get the flowers during the winter, but I found that faded ones would do just as well, so I made arrangements with the greenhouse at home to take theirs at wholesale.

“A month ago came my first commission A little neighbor won a prize in an oratorical contest and her mother sent over the bunch of salmon pink carnations she had carried to have them turned into beads. They came out the loveliest rose pink and the child was delighted with them. She can show them to her grandchildren They were like this.”

Sighs for White Beads.

She picked up a lovely string combined with pink and cut glass beadlets, with all the fragrance of the flowers. It is amusing to identify the strings lying on their white cotton beds in their little square boxes. The purple ones were violets of course. But what were these dark red pear-shaped ones strung with silver that look as if they were made to match the new mahogany gowns? Carnations–the kind Galsworthy talks about in the “Dark Flower.” And the grays that look as if they were meant for some dear old lady? French lilacs. Lilies of the valley are corn colored.

“We haven’t been able to make a white bead,” sighs the experimenter. “I’m sorry because wedding bouquets are almost always lilies of the valley–and a wedding necklace should be white! But the chemicals give them this cream tint. I think they are pretty, though, with the little gold beads. And I am making some hand-painted boxes that will be dainty enough for any bride. I have asked Miss Wilson for a spray of her bouquet so that I can make her some beads. I won’t need it all, so the lucky bridesmaid who catches it can keep most of it. But I should love to do it for Miss Wilson, for she was an art student, too.

“What are those green beads? Ferns. Some of them came with the flowers one day and I tried them. The maidenhair makes those soft green ones and the real ferns the bright ones. I use only the tip ends of the fronds. The dark purple beads are made of heliotrope and the mottled ones are pink and white sweet peas. Of course I have to work them up together in my hands like marble cake–but it gives the effect, don’t you think so? The saffron beads are jonquils.

“I’m sorry the suffrage flowers don’t come out a bright yellow.

“I can hardly wait for summer to bring the roses. I am so anxious to work with them. They are so expensive and in such demand that I haven’t been able to get hold of many. I had a few American beauties once and they made the loveliest beads–almost the same color. I strung them with black beads and they were bought at once.

“Could I make beads of mistletoe? If there were enough of it, though I am afraid they would come out gray. But holly ought to be lovely, the red and green beads together. Oh, I try everything. Mother does, too. She makes the beads when I am not at home.”

Mrs Wood who looks hardly older than her daughter, smiled brightly. “I used to try to write,” she said, but my typewriter is getting a long rest. I believe in doing the thing that comes to your hand. And every time I make a bead I think it is another coin toward Louise’s going abroad. She must if she is to be a successful designer.

The “Weezy-Wizy” Beads.

“We call them the ‘Weezy-Wizy’ beads from a childhood nickname of hers–her name is Louise Eliza. We had to have a name to patent, so we took that.

“It’s rather hard work, for every single bead has to be separately and carefully molded, and baked in a very hot oven. At first I had a queer feeling that it was Saturday all the week. But now I think more about the romance of it. I try to picture the bride who wore the lilies I am working over. I wonder what her dress was made of, and how her veil was arranged. And I am, oh, so careful not to mix in a single petal of some other bouquet.

“One little bride sent me not only her wedding bouquet, but a sample of her gray traveling suit for me to match. It was a blueish-gray, and I mixed French and purple lilacs, and got it exactly. I strung it with tiny black beads, so that it came down below her waist. We make them any length, of course.

“It’s fun to wonder what the postman will bring me every day, and to turn the faded flowers into bright new beads that will never fade. It’s like quickening a cooling love. But the flowers must be only faded, not dried. I can’t make over dead sentiment. That would take Cupid himself!

The Washington [DC] Post 10 May 1914: p. 6

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  One can still find instructions on how to make flower beads, such as at this site.

There was loudly-voiced scepticism over commercially produced floral beads, with many persons suggesting that actual flowers would discolour and that, to be attractive, beads must be made with added colour, corn-starch filler, and fragrance. This description of flower-bead necklaces given as party favours is candid about the materials used:

At his annual lawn party given by Mr John Lewis Childs to the little girls of Floral Park, three hundred guests. received a favour of “a necklace of beads, made of flowers grown on Mr. Childs’ grounds in California, including orange blossoms, roses and violets. Some of the beads are natural color, others colored with ground mineral, such as turquoise and malachite. In most cases the beads retain the fragrance of the flowers.”

Times Union [Brooklyn NY] 16 July 1915: p. 7

 

 

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdote

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.