It’s called a Tussie Mussie, a Posey Holder, Nose Gay, or a Porte-Bouque. The names are different, but they are the same thing – a small, cone-shaped flower holder that holds a very small bouquet.
This antique lady’s accessory usually was made of silver or other metals, or, in its simplest form, a wrapping of lace and ribbon around the flowers themselves. A long pin held the flowers in place. Most had a finger ring that allowed the Posey Holder to dangle while ladies attended to other duties.
These accessories were created in medieval times, but became widely used in the Victorian Era. There were practical reasons for a lady carry a tussie mussie (or tussy mussy) beyond a love of flowers. Personal hygiene was not a priority and public sanitation was poor. A walk down the city street was much like a walk down an open sewer. Women would hold these tiny, fresh nosegays close to their faces to sniff the fragrant leaves and mask the odors of their surroundings.
What a lady carried in her tussie mussie was important, too. Flower appreciation (sometimes formally known as The Language of Flowers) was a course offered in Ladies finishing schools. There was meaning or symbolism associated with each and every flower, leaf or herb included in a bouquet. It was very important for that young lady to know the meaning or the message behind the flowers that her admirer sent. Victorian brides often walked down the aisle carrying these elaborate and beautiful bouquets.
For collectors today, the tussie mussie is a desirable antique. An exceptional example made of silver and semi-precious stones may sell for $1,000 or more. There are attractive silver-plated reproductions that are useable for $25 or less, and could also be the starting point for your collection.
Some flowers and their meanings:
• Basil – Best Wishes;
• Rose – Congratulations, Love;
• Ivy – Friendship;
• Lavender – Success, Luck and Happiness;
• Three Leaf Clover – The Holy Trinity;
• Mint – Warmth of Feelings;
• Pansy – Loving Thoughts.