M9791 | Bracelet

1850-1870, 19th century
2.6 cm
Gift of the Estate of Miss Anne McCord
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Bracelet (29)
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Keys to History

Population statistics alter with hatching, matching and dispatching. Family mementos take many shapes and forms, from everyday photographs, journals and autograph books to unusual keepsakes, such as jewellery and framed wreaths made from a loved one's hair. Locks cut from someone's head are elaborately woven into freeform chains or formed into sprigs of flora on wire backing. Items made of hair are worn or displayed in the household. This fashion reaches its height at midcentury, but keepsakes were cherished for many years. Magazines, like the Godey's Lady's Journal, that give instructions on how to make these keepsakes are imported into Canada. Every minute of the day must be a minute well spent, for, as the saying goes, "the Devil finds mischief for idle hands."

Jane L. Cook, "Bringing the Outside In," Material History Review 38 (fall 1993): 45.

Source : Crowding the Parlour [Web tour], by Jane Cook, McGill University (see Links)

  • What

    This is a broad-banded bracelet made from human hair. Another curl of hair is nestled inside a central framed locket, along with some small pearls.

  • Where

    The bracelet was worn on the wrist or stored in a jewellery box.

  • When

    Such mementos were popular in the third decade of the 19th century.

  • Who

    A lady would do such intricate weaving of hair. She would make this bracelet for herself, or a close family member or friend of the person from whom the hair was taken.