A rare matched pair of silver mirror design Vauxhall glass hair pins
CONDITION: the odd chip to glass or missing petal otherwise good vintage condition with expected wear
SIZE: 5 ins h x 2 ins w (13 x 5 cm) decorative part 2 ins h (5 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1890s – 1900s
MATERIALS: metal, glass
Here is a rare matched pair of hair pins in the silvery mirror glass generally known as Vauxhall glass. They are made in a classic three dimensional star shape in which faceted pieces are mounted upon a metal backing. They each have two tines to hold them in the hair.
Star shaped hair ornaments were one of the favourites of the late Victorian era and were made in materials of all kinds. The collage photograph shows some examples of similar hair accessories taken from contemporary illustrative sources, and reveals the manner and hair styles in which they were worn.
The name Vauxhall glass comes from that of a famous (or rather infamous) pleasure garden which existed at Vauxhall near London in the late 18th and early 19th century. It was a place of amusement where people of all classes mixed and mingled, and had a rather unsavory reputation. It was fashionable for rich people to go “slumming” to such places, dressed in their best. However many people were afraid to wear their good jewellery for fear of robbery. Instead they substituted ornaments of paste or glass. These had the same glittery effect under candlelight but were of no commercial value. Hence the name Vauxhall glass or Vauxhall paste has come to be applied to these glittery ornaments, which were, in fact, being produced long after the Vauxhall Gardens had closed down.
Nowadays the term Vauxhall is applied to a particular style of flashy ornaments made from mirror glass. These glass ornaments come in a number of different colours, as well as clear. I have seen them in dark red, blue and green. The black opaque variety is generally known as French jet. The ornaments are commonly made in star or flower shapes with the “petals” built up into a three dimensional form. This type of jewellery is very fragile and is rarely found in perfect condition. It needs to be looked after carefully.
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Vauxhall glass hair pins matched pair star design hair accessories