Campana Brothers Select: Works from the Permanent Collection

Necklace and pair of bracelets

  • Probably England, ca. 1830
    Dyed horsehair
    Museum purchase through bequest of Ida C. McNeil in memory of Lincoln C. McNeil and Catherine McNeil,
    1992-166-1-3
    Photo: Andrew Garn

  • The practice of keeping a locket of hair as a token of love, or as a relic of a holy figure, has existed for centuries. The idea of using hair for the structural part of jewelry appeared as a fashion in the eighteenth century. By the 1830s, especially in England and the United States, all sorts of pendants, brooches, earrings, necklaces, and bracelets were made using human as well as horsehair. Commercial catalogues of the 1850s to1870s mass-marketed these delicate designs. We were amazed at how man can reinvent a banal material into something precious.

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The above tags were provided by the Campana Brothers as an alternative way of organizing the objects in the exhibition.