19th Century Earrings: FACT OR FICTION?

Did Victorians wear earrings? They decorated with much lavish attention to detail. Ladies’ gowns had pleats, trim, bows, tucks, gathers, and frills. But yet Victorians had serious rules in play about what was vulgar (cosmetics that could be detected) and what was acceptable (scented lotions).

What do you think?

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EARRINGS WITH HISTORIC SIGNIFICANCE

Newspapers are often a helpful resource when researching when and how an object (or phrase or word) came into common existence. This newspaper clipping is from 1899, which is rather late in the Victorian era (Queen Victoria died in January 1901, ushering in the Edwardian Era, though through the end of Edward’s reign is often piggybacked onto the commonly held Victorian Era).

The Record Argus of Greenville, Pennsylvania on February 22, 1899.

The Record Argus of Greenville, Pennsylvania on February 22, 1899.

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CATALOGS

Store catalogs such as Tiffany & Co., Sears Roebuck & Co., and Montgomery Ward & Co. shed light on the styles, trends, availability, and pricing of just about everything…including ladies’ earrings. Known as “ear drops”, ‘dangling’ earrings were quite popular. This assessment (of popularity) is based on the inclusion not only in Tiffany & Co. but in Sears–supplying farmer’s wives on the prairie and small-town ladies of the west.

Notice the 1875 catalog had no illustrations (true photographs didn’t come about in newspapers or magazines for another long while yet). The catalogs of 1897 are fully illustrated. Isn’t it interesting that the styles of earrings really haven’t changed much. Yes, we have trends in the modern day, but the old standbys are still on store display racks.

Ear Drops advertised in the Montgomery Ward & Co. Catalog (mail-order) in 1875.

Ear Drops and Earrings advertised in the Montgomery Ward & Co. Catalog (mail-order) in 1875.

Ear Drops and Earrings for sale in the Sears Roebuck & Co. catalog, 1897.

Ear Drops and Earrings for sale in the Sears Roebuck & Co. catalog, 1897.

Ear drops and earrings for sale in the Sears Roebuck & Co. catalog, 1897.

Ear drops and earrings for sale in the Sears Roebuck & Co. catalog, 1897.

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VINTAGE PHOTOGRAPHS

Photographs can be misleading. After all, not every woman wore earrings, even when dressed up for a professional photographer’s sitting. Note both of these young ladies sat for photographers in New England, both wear lace adornment and brooches at their throats. But no earrings.

Lovely Victorian young woman, photographed professionally in New York. Image: for sale on eaby.

Lovely Victorian young woman, photographed professionally in New York. Image: for sale on eaby.

Pretty young woman, photographed in Westboro, Massachusetts. Image: for sale on ebay.

Pretty young woman, photographed in Westboro, Massachusetts. Image: for sale on ebay.

I also found ample examples of young ladies wearing “ear drops” in photographs. One might suppose earrings were a personal choice, as they are now. Fashionable, but not required. Perhaps frowned upon in some circles? I don’t know.

Photographed in New York, this slender woman wears long, dangling "ear drops". Image: for sale on ebay.

Photographed in New York, this slender woman wears long, dangling “ear drops”. Image: for sale on ebay.

Well-dressed young woman, photographed in Brooklyn, NY, wears "ear drops". Image: for sale on ebay.

Well-dressed young woman, photographed in Brooklyn, NY, wears “ear drops”. Image: for sale on ebay.

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RESEARCH JUSTIFIED PHOTOGRAPH: THE MARSHAL’S SURRENDER

When preparing the book cover for THE MARSHAL’S SURRENDER, beginning with a photo shoot, I was at first concerned that the earrings worn by the model weren’t historically accurate. After delving into vintage catalogs, newspaper advertisements (from the era), and old photographs, I’m confident ladies of means did wear earrings–at least one fine pair, at least when truly dressed up for an occasion.

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I’m pleased to announce that THE MARSHAL’S SURRENDER will debut in December, 2016. I’ve been both pleased and embarrassed when readers have contacted me asking when Gus’s love story will finally be released. I’m not certain yet of the date, but promise that Gus’s book will be for sale in December (and I am committing to THIS year!).

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He’ll surrender his tattered heart…and his life.

Note: The working title, initially for this book was A Christmas Courtship. But as the story developed and I realized the depth and seriousness of the challenges Gus faced, the title no longer fit. I needed a title that reflected the angst, life-threatening conflict, and the development of Gus’s surprise love with Noelle Finlay.

Don’t miss this long-awaited release (especially if you read Maybe This Christmas). The BEST way to stay well-informed and know immediately when a new book is released is to sign up for my newsletter AND save my email address in your contacts. That way the newsletter you register for won’t end up in your spam, unseen and unread. Tip: If you have Google Mail (@gmail.com) all you need do is drag my newsletter subscription confirmation (or any newsletter email) from PROMOTIONS tab into your PRIMARY tab. Then my once-in-a-great-while newsletter will land in your “inbox”. It’s always easy to unsubscribe (the link to unsubscribe is on the bottom of each newsletter), should you discover you’re no longer interested or I’m driving you crazy. It’s up to you!

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MY CHRISTMAS GIFT TO NEWSLETTER SUBSCRIBERS

My December newsletter will contain my GIFT COPY to all subscribers, a novella-length NEW FICTION title This Noelle, not available anywhere else! And yes, the play on words is intentional. Noelle, the heroine of The Marshal’s Surrender, is the new baby in This Noelle.

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If you’ve not yet subscribed to my newsletter, please do so today! I don’t want you to miss out on either of these new additions to my Holidays in Mountain Home Series.

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