|Description: A yellow gold filled watch fob holding human hair. The fob is circular and has a piece of glass covering a loose cluster of blond strands of hair in the centre. The outside of the circle is decorated with a foliated pattern. At the top is two rings that attach to a third larger foliated ring. the back of the fob has a circular barley engine-turned design with blank cartouche in the centre. The edges on the back are also decorated with a foliated pattern. |
Watches were originally been carried on a chain around the neck. When they got smaller they were held in pockets called "fobs" in breeches. Changing clothing styles led to fob pockets being moved from the trouser to the waistcoat or vest. Pocket watches were now held in the vest pocket with the chain hanging out so the watch could be easily removed. Pocket watches and accessories reached the height of their popularity in the 19th century. Watch chains were now called "fobs" themselves. A balancing weight was added to the bottom of the chain to keep it from tangling. This weight was commonly a small personal seal. These seals eventually became known as a "fob" as well. Other parts of watch chains included fasteners to attach the chain to the vest to keep the watch from falling. Prince Albert brought the "Albert chain" into popularity which had a secondary decorative chain which draped across the vest from a button hole to the pocket. Watch chains could be made from metal, cloth or in the Victorian times hair. Along with the seal fob other useful tools like watch keys, whistles, cigar cutters, stamp boxes, monocles, compasses and magnifying glasses were attached. Various charms and personal mementos like a family shield could also be found attached to watch chains. http://reviews.ebay.com/Victorian-Pocket-Watch-Chains-andFobs_W0QQugidZ10000000004629700
Hair jewellery's popularity began in the 17th century with the custom of distributing mourning rings with a lock of the deceasedís hair. The trend grew and increased in variety in the 18th and 19th centuries. Queen Victoria is credited with the English fascination with hair jewellery as she often wore and gave hair jewellery throughout her life. By the mid-19th century hair was no longer only used under glass in lockets or rings but made into entire pieces of jewellery. Hair was woven into intricate designs and pieces including bracelets, watch chains, earrings, etc. Hair jewellery was popular in France, England and the United States.
This item may have belonged to Matilda Lindsay (c.1802-1887), Captain James Harrisís sister who lived in Perth in Scotland. Matilda Lindsay was a consistent correspondent with her brother and sent many care packages to Captain Harris and his family. In a list of jewellery she sent to Canada c. 1882, Matilda lists a number of hair jewellery that she sent including a bracelet of her hair for each of her nieces.