During the Georgian era with its lack of sanitation, hygiene and rampant pestilence, well-to-do ladies would carry around a small bouquet of fragrant flowers called nosegays to superstitiously ward off disease and mask the noxious odors of the street.
In the mid-1800s, this practice of flower carrying was romanticized and the posy holder (or tussie mussie) became a fashionable accessory for any elite lady, particularly if she were attending a ball.
Resembling a small vase, the posy holder was usually crafted in silver or brass and sometimes had an ivory or mother of pearl handle. Gentlemen callers would give ladies a small bouquet consisting of a central flower surrounded by flowers of contrasting colors. Each flower represented a specific feeling, which the lady would then look up in her Tussie dictionary.
The flowers were skewered into the posy holder with the long attached pin. The lady would then attach the holder to her hand with the accompanying ring and would allow the piece to swing freely as she danced with her suitor.
This hauntingly beautiful posy holder is a wonderful example of a long-forgotten courting practice. It has been heavily used and much loved.
Fashioned in exquisitely antiqued gilded brass, this delicate accessory features an Etruscan revival style basket with wonderful filigree work and repouseé ball granulation detailing. The six-sided handle features delicate swirling repouseé leaf detailing and is accented with a ball finial.
It has its original ring but is missing its original pin.
Materials: Gilded brass
Measurements: 6" x 1 3/8"
Condition: Very Good
Most of the gold gilding has worn off as has some of the repouseé leaf detailing on the handle. It is clear that this was a heavily used and loved piece. It has a few spots of verdigris inside the basket, at the base of the handle and on the top of the handle near the loop where the chain is attached. This piece is missing its original pin, which was used to secure the flowers in place in the basket. However, you could easily remedy that by using a straight pin or a corsage pin to keep everything in place.
Cleaning and Care
Clean gently with warm soap and water and a soft bristled brush. Dry thoroughly.