Victorian Surprises

About a month ago, I toured a local historic home that had been built in the 1870s. The house was filled with the requisite Victorian furniture and décor, but also had a few things I’d never seen before. I don’t pretend to be a historian, but I like to think I have a pretty good grasp of that time period. Imagine my surprise when I came across something that looked like the picture below.

© Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation

Now, many of you may know what it is, but I didn’t. It was placed on a dresser in a bedroom. Any guesses? No? It was filled with sugar water. Can you guess now?

I’ll have pity on those of you who don’t know. It’s a fly trap. Flies go in, but can’t get back out. I can only imagine what a gross mess it must have been to clean one out.

The other item that caught my interest was similar to the piece depicted below.

The one I saw was on a lady’s vanity. It measured about three inches in diameter. They usually are a part of a matching vanity dresser set. I thought it looked like something you put cotton balls in, but that wasn’t it. They were often made of ceramic or glass with a silver top. Can you guess? It’s a hair receiver. (Above photo courtesy of

Ladies would take shedded hair or hair left in the bristles of a brush and store it in this container. The hair was used to make jewelry, to memorialize a deceased loved one, or braided into designs. It was also used to make a rat or ratt—a large amount of hair was rolled into a tube shape, then put into a hair net and sewn shut. This was used to add fullness to the elaborate hair-dos of the time period.

Needless to say, I had no idea our ancestors were so creative. It makes me wish I could travel through time to experience daily Victorian life in person.

Watch fob made of hair.


3 Responses to Victorian Surprises

  1. Candy Lyons says:

    Wow! Great information, Tricia. Fascinating.

  2. Jennifer says:

    Ahh! Now see these are the random and weird things I like to somehow include in my novels, but alas too often the opportunity doesn’t present itself to do so, and I must cute that perfectly good scene (where I tried my hardest to share my little fact) because the scene does nothing to move the story forward 😀

  3. QNPoohBear says:

    I’ve never seen either of those things before. How cool! I need a hair receiver. Maybe I can find one on ebay.

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