Issue: CC109
27th February 2023

For your nosegays

(A small bunch of fragrant flowers)

Brass and enamel bouquet holder. Illustrations by CC.

These ornate little trumpets are bouquetiers, also known as tussie-mussies or quite simply, posy holders. In the 1800s flowers were a popular gift and fashion accessory among the upper classes of Europe. Of course, a respectable lady didn’t want a drippy dress, stained gloves and only a fistful of wilted stems to show for it at the end of the evening so the advent of decorative holders became a must-have item.


Pieces of moss (mussie) were wrapped around the stems to keep them moist and in addition to the handle for carrying, many holders also included a pin to secure the stems in place and a ring on a chain – allowing the bouquet to dangle from the hand or chatelaine (belt clasp) when dancing. One example here even includes a fan of five ivory cards and a pencil to use as a dance card.

A selection of bouquetiers held by the Smithsonian are shown below. They average roughly 13cm in height and the chains were removed from the pictures so we could fit more into the print edition!

Follow this link to see all 604 bouquet holders in the Smithsonian’s collection.

Gilded brass, enamel, paint, mirror
Gilded metal, glass, turquoise stones
Gilded metal, mother of pearl, ivory
Gilded metal, (dyed) ivory
Silver plate
Silver and gold plated
Silver, copper, bone
Gilded metal, pink stones
Gilded metal, mother of pearl, enamel, beads
Gilded metal, glass beads, enamel, mother of pearl
Gilded metal, mother of pearl
Gilded metal, enamel
Silver, gold wash
Silver plated brass
Gold, silver, amethyst