an article by Giorgio Busetto - www.silvercollection.it
for ASCAS - Association of Small Collectors of Antique Silver
a small collection of antique silver and objects of vertu
(click on images to enlarge)

'Posy holder' or 'Tussie mussie' ?

The posy holder is a lady's accessory in silver or other metal, resembling a small vase.

In earlier times before sanitation and concerns with personal hygiene, the nosegays were carried to superstitiously ward off disease or to camouflage the unpleasant smells of the street.

young ladies used posy holder to hold the flowers brought by their courting 'gentleman callers'
Later in the 19th and early 20th centuries they were romanticized as a fashion accessory for young ladies to hold the flowers brought by courting 'gentleman callers'.

Posy holder was attached to lady's hand by a chain and a ring
To show her acceptance of him, she skewered the flowers into the posy holder with a long pin and wore the holder to a ball. Attached to her hand by a chain and a ring, it swung free while they danced.

In America this small container used to carry nosegays of sweet smelling flowers or herbs is called 'tussie mussie'.

The name 'tussie' originates from an old English word for a nosegay. The second part refers to the wet moss used to keep the flowers moist.

posy holder with grapesposy holder with flowers

A common posy holder had a repousse receptacle with fruits, flowers, beads and leaves

posy holder with mother of pearl handleposy holder with metal handle

They were fixed into a metal or carved mother of pearl handle

posy holders in the shape of a mesh basket with oak leaves

Other posy holders had the shape of a mesh basket with oak leaves,

posy holder with cornet shape with open workposy holder with elaborated design with leaves and medallionposy holder pierced and embossed with flowers and leaves or a cornet shape highly embossed with open work and elaborated designs with leaves and a medallion on the side
brooch posy holderbrooch posy holderbrooch posy holder

Posy holders had also the shape of a brooch for lady's suits

shoe brooch posy holderfiligree horn brooch posy holderhorn brooch posy holder

sometimes of unusual shape such as shoes and horns

posy holderbrooch posy holder

A Victorian silver posy holder (tussie mussie)

silver posy holder or tussie mussie This silver posy holder belonging to my collection has the shape of a basket of leaves and flowers fixed into a carved mother-of-pearl handle and a glass opening suitable to hold an oval miniature.

It has part of the original chain, lacking only the rod fixing the bouquet in place.

This posy holder is unmarked but it is of European origin (Continental) and dates from the mid-Nineteenth century.

It is 5 in. wide (cm. 12,5), while the "basket" measures slightly over 1 1/2 in. across (cm.4).


silver posy holder or tussie mussiesilver posy holder or tussie mussiesilver posy holder or tussie mussie
silver posy holder or tussie mussie

Giorgio Busetto - 2005 -
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