Holmes laughed. “Fifty six years ago, the Queen made a deduction regarding her husband’s hair, Watson.”
He slid the latest Pall Mall Gazette across the breakfast table. “Read it yourself, old man. Just there, below the photograph of the bracelet.”
I found the article.
“After the Prince Consort’s death, Her Majesty had some of his hair made into a bracelet.* Now the Queen stipulated that there were to be no joinings, but this was impossible, the Prince’s hair being too short. However the Queen’s instructions were carried out and the bracelet delivered.
Chancing to be toying with it one day, Her Majesty drew out a hair three times the length of the Prince’s hair; then there was trouble.The bracelet was inspected, and it was found that that while much of it was Prince Albert’s hair, the greater part of it was not.” (The bracelet pictured is such a bracelet, but not that bracelet.)
“Hmm,” I mused. “Let me make another deduction. When one goes about as a ‘Majesty,’ people are going to lie to you to keep you happy.”
The Pall Mall Gazette (February 1897) has more to tell about “hair devices,” as momentos of deceased loved ones. Below is an example from a Swiss gentleman, Antonio Forrer, who developed what we would call a fiber art in the 1840’s, weaving hair and wool.
It seems an English woman spied some of his work while traveling, brought him to London and helped him to set up a work shop in Regent Street, where he developed a successful trade. Before long he offered work to dozens of Swiss women who helped him to meet the demand. When the craze (as the Gazette calls it) was at its height, provision would be specified in wills for mourning brooches, rings, bracelets and earrings, as well as “fiber art” creations for the parlour. In London alone, there were 100 hair-working studios. Below are other examples of Victorian momento mori, a monogramed a bracelet, choker, earrings and wall hanging featuring the deceased woman herself.
This stuff is fun, quirky, thought-provoking and sometimes hard to get our modern heads around. If you find it as interesting as I do, follow my blog. Thank you.