Hair-Raising Collectibles

Among other things (think “Dallas,” “Dynasty” and the fall of the Berlin Wall) the 1980s were famous for “big hair.” The higher, puffier and curlier, the better.

But “big hair” was also a feature of the Victorian era. How did the women achieve those huge rolls, buns and poufs without gel, mousse and diffusers?

Victorian lady

They faked it – using their own hair.

Every time a woman brushed her hair, she would clean her brush and deposit the hair into a hair receiver like the ones shown here. When it was full, she’d gather it up and stuff it into a hair net, which she’d then use as a ratt (also spelled “rat”) underneath her tresses to get volume. Because the ratt was made with her own hair it was a flawless match and virtually undetectable.

Hair was also used to stuff pincushions, because the oils in the hair lubricated sewing needles and helped to keep them from rusting.

Hair receivers were made in all styles, from plain and practical to elaborate works of art. Their heyday was from the late 1800s all the way to the 1950s.

Hair receivers are highly collectible.

You can start a collection without spending a fortune – you can pick up most hair receivers for about $10 to $60.

Amber glass hair receiver, circa 1930s

Amber glass hair receiver, circa 1930s

But some rare pieces can run into the hundreds, and a nice collection could be worth even more one day.

Rosenthal porcelain hair receiver circa 1930.Photo courtesy of Habit Schmabit on Etsy

Rosenthal porcelain hair receiver circa 1930
Photo courtesy of Habit Schmabit on Etsy

Who would have thought that such a mundane routine could have created such beautiful vintage and antique items to display?

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About sarathurston

I'm a marketing communications writer who also loves antiques and collectibles. You can find my shop on Etsy at http://www.etsy.com/shop/JanvierRoad
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