When I was growing up my parents played a lot of Beatles music around the house, and I remember my mom telling us how the frenzy over the band was so crazy at one point that Ringo’s hair was snipped-off by a girl at a cocktail party as a souvenir. What a horrible thing to do to somebody over fruit punch and a bit of chit-chat!
Those boys from Liverpool really made it to the top, and Beatlemania was simply a kind of widespread madness; companies fought over themselves to take advantage of the craze with merchandise like Beatles wigs, boots, shampoos, hair brushes and hair spray, just to name a few! The lads certainly have a thing or two they could teach the mostly talentless wannabes today. But I digress! Congratulations to Jennifer Springfield for getting it right first, and the vintage postcard is in the mail as they say!
The earrings were made of braided hair, most likely during the time of Victoria and Dickens. Jewellery made with hair dates back to at least the 1600's, when hair bracelets were given as love tokens by both men and women. This type of jewellery remained popular until the late 1800's. Many people today may associate hair jewellery mainly with death, thinking it was made only for the purpose of mourning a deceased loved one. This is not surprising because Queen Victoria herself made it socially proper and desirable to mourn deeply, and hers was a remarkable story in itself as she spent some 40 odd years mourning for Prince Albert. While there is no doubt that was a major function of hair jewellery, nevertheless, many pieces were in fact made just for sentimental reasons, and as tokens of love and friendship. In the days before photography, hair jewellery was something people could cherish as keepsakes. For example, in the late 1800's and early 1900's, postcards and valentines were also sent with hair attached. The sender would glue locks of her hair onto specially made postcards, and send it to someone as a memento.
Here are a few more tokens of love and friendship made of hair…
Lovely brooches are they not?
…and a very fashionable fob watch chain. Napoleon had carried a similar one made from the hair of Empress Marie Louise into his battles. At the end of his life, as his life was ebbing away on the island of St. Helena, he left instructions that upon his passing, his hair was to be preserved and fashioned into bracelets, to be given to Marie Louise, his mother, brothers and sisters, and a larger one reserved for his son. The watch chain made from his wife’s hair was important enough that it was bequeathed to his son. In his will, he stipulated “My two watches, and the chain of the Empress’s hair, I entrust the care of these articles to Marchand, my principal valet-de-chambre, and direct him to convey them to my son when he shall attain the age of sixteen years.”