The Victorian Era saw the invention of lots of things that are still with us (cars and photography, for instance), but sometimes things go the way of the buggy whip, due to changing times and technology. Here are five phrases that didn’t make it out of the 19th century: Tussie-Mussie A tussie-mussie was a small bouquet of flowers, about the size of the one brides toss at a reception, each flower or herb carefully chosen for its meaning or message.
Victorians embraced the language of flowers, and the giver of a tussie-mussie would research and plan the bouquet carefully in order to convey the intended message to someone dear. The metal bouquet cone the flowers were placed in was also called a tussie-mussie. It’s hard to imagine, what with the spectacle that is today’s reality TV, that one would need to rely on flowers to do the talking. Hair receiver A hair receiver was a dish with a hole in the lid for putting hair in. A lady would brush her hair, then take the shedded hair out of her brush, and place it in the hair receiver. This hair was used to stuff things such as pincushions and hair ratts. Hair ratts were used to create the elaborate, voluminous hairstyles common in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The blue hair receiver in the photo is mine, and has been in my family for over 100 years. Gutta Percha (pronounced like it looks) Gutta percha is natural latex derived from evergreen trees native to Malaysia and Indonesia. Things made out of gutta percha include chessmen, tea trays, shoe soles, golf balls, and even jewelry, as an alternative to jet.
Gutta percha went out of favor after plastics were invented. Website for the photo Widow’s Walk A widow’s walk is the flat part of a roof with a decorative wooden or wrought iron railing around it. Widow’s walks were common on Victorian-era homes, and was a flat place to stand while sweeping out, or working on, the chimney. Chatelaine A chatelaine referred to a decorative belt hook, worn by the lady of the house at her waist, with a series of chains suspended from it. Each chain had a useful household item attached to it, such as keys, coin purse, watch, scissors, vinaigrette, and more steampunk accesories. (A vinaigrette is a small jar with a perforated top holding smelling salts: cities were once pretty stinky places!) Chatelaines were the swiss army knives of their day, but evolved into a decorative status symbol. They were made of various metals, from gold on down to pinchbeck, a yellow alloy.