Friday, June 14, 2013

Sepia Saturday: Dressed to Impress

Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.




This week’s Sepia Saturday photo prompt depicts a lovely young woman adorned with some elegant jewelry.  While many of the women in my family tree appreciated jewelry, their tastes were decidedly more modest than that of the woman in the prompt. 


Mary Susan Sudie Eppard Rucker
Mary Susan "Sudie" Eppard Rucker
my great-grandmother
(maternal grandmother's mother)



According to my aunt, my great-grandmother Mary Susan “Sudie” Eppard Rucker was considered a well-dressed woman.  Her husband was a railroad conductor in the days when railroads were booming.  I suppose she had to dress the part.  

















Jet jewelry from Mary Sudie Rucker
Jet jewelry that belonged to Mary Sudie Rucker



Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of her wearing her jet beads that now are mine.  The triple strand was originally a long single strand which was popular among 1920s flappers who liked wearing a necklace that reached at least to their waist.  Since Sudie would have been too old to be a flapper, maybe her jet beads were actually mourning beads.  The somber color and simple design made them appropriate jewelry for women in mourning. 



Mary Susan Sudie Eppard Rucker
Mary Sudie Rucker







My sister is now the caretaker of Sudie’s ornamental hair comb.  It is black, probably celluloid.















Turn of the century “big hair” required a little help.  Enter the hair receiver.

Celluloid dresser set including the hair receiver


A Victorian dresser set would have included a tray, a powder jar, and a hair receiver like the celluloid one I display on my dresser.  The hole in the lid allowed a lady to fill the pot easily with hair removed from her brush and comb.  When she gathered enough hair, she would stuff it into a cloth bag called a “ratt” that could then be tucked under her own hair to add volume and height. 

I wish I could say this was Sudie’s dresser set and her hair receiver.  However, supposedly this celluloid dresser set was my mother’s.  She was a teen in the 40s, so it’s unlikely the set is turn of the century.  Plus it’s in terrible condition, speckled with paint that probably resulted from being left out while a ceiling was being painted.  And there is nail polish, of all things, on the lid of the hair receiver.  Had this dresser set been valuable, Momma would have taken better care of it. 

So why am I including it in a post about jewelry?  Because of something weird we found in Sudie’s attic.

I was quite young but I remember visiting Grandma Rucker’s house one last time after she died. 

In the attic we found a bag full of hair. 

She must’ve been planning some big ratt!


Please visit my friends at Sepia Saturday.  You can bet their posts are real gems.




© 2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

51 comments:

  1. That would be a strange discovery!

    I'd never heard of hair receivers before. My hair is baby fine; maybe I need one! :)

    My grandmother had necklaces that looked like those jet beads. My sister and I used to play with them.

    Have a nice weekend!

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    1. Jet beads look as contemporary today as they did 100 years ago. Happy Friday, Dana!

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  2. You would be surprised how very collectible early plastic products are. I always look at Ebay when I come across things I am unsure about. (Not so sure about Grandma's hair however !!)

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    1. I compare my stuff to what's on sale on eBay. Typically what I think is a treasure is worth only $5 on eBay. Such is my life.

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    2. I can totally relate to that Wendy.

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  3. A hair receiver, I haven't heard of that either. Jet beads are timeless.

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    1. I'm surprised how many people haven't heard of a hair receiver, but I bet most have seen them in antique stores and didn't know it.

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  4. I've never heard of a hair receiver, either. And I can't imagine running across a bag full of hair!

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    1. A bag of hair is rather Halloweenish.

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  5. "Jollett Etc." has been included in the Sites To See for this week. Be assured that I hope this helps to point many new visitors in your direction.

    http://asthecrackerheadcrumbles.blogspot.com/2013/06/sites-to-see_14.html

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    1. Thanks for the hook-up, Jerry. I'm honored to be listed since I recognize and respect many of the others listed along with my blog this week. I hope mine isn't one that you find disturbing.

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  6. I didn't know women saved hair like that. Sounds kind of ratty--as in rat and rat's nest.

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    1. I would bet the ratt and expression "rat's nest" are related.

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  7. I've seen those hair receivers in thrift stores...never knew what they were. So interesting. I have a friend with llamas and she saves their hair because "some day" she'll have the time to weave with it. She has a ROOM full of hair.

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    1. I have bought soap wrapped with alpaca hair woven to create a kind of scrubby.

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  8. Maybe Momma got that from Grandma Rucker and I NEVER knew you found a bag of hair. Y'all didn't give it to Daddy? ;) Yeah, I'm here through the weekend...

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    1. What? And have that hair detract from his tennis hat?

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  9. What On Earth Did You DO With The Hair?!
    + I Love The Look Of The Hair Comb!

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    1. As a kid I wasn't concerned with what became of anything, so I don't really know, but I suspect it went in the trash. We're a sentimental bunch and make sure everything gets passed on to the next generation, but we surely drew the line at saving the hair.

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  10. I'd never heard of hair receivers either. I wonder if you put that bag of hair up for sale on eBay, whether you'd get any takers? That would be very weird.

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    1. I bet you would. Anyone having problems with rabbits and other critters in their flower beds just might want the hair to sprinkle around the flowers to keep the bunnies away.

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  11. I never knew hair was collected like that. Nowadays you see hair in saloons vacuumed off the floor and thrown away. Ratt - a new word I learned today.

    Hazel

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    1. As I was just saying to Brett Payne, hair is useful to keep animals out of your flower bed. Hair salons are a good source.

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  12. Wendy, riveting, funny, never heard of a hair receiver, but it makes sense. My mother had a jet necklace, quite pretty, I think they were popular.

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    1. Yes, the jet beads were quite popular and still pretty easy to come by in antique shops.

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  13. My wife has some necklaces of Whitby jet; Whitby is less than 40 miles from where we live and is famous for its jet shops.

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    1. I've heard Whitby is supposed to be the best.

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  14. Great ending to your post too Wendy, it's very fitting. Two new things I've learned, the Jet Beads, I've seen them, but didn't know their name, and the hair receiver, how very interesting. The bag of hair, I've seen that lovely and odd thing before, for when they made hair art, often to honor a loved one!

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    1. Yes, I read about hair art or mourning hair. My understanding though is it was usually hair cut from the dear departed and then woven into SOMETHING, a pin or pendant. Hair wadded up from a brush would have been too difficult to untangle for weaving. If you went to Rob from Amersfoort's Sepia entry and followed the link to his collection of daguerreotypes, you saw a woman wearing a hair mourning broach.

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  15. I have heard of hair receivers. I have a braid of my mother's that she cut off and I used to use my cousin's cut hair on dollhouse dolls back in the day.

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    1. OK, I have to ask: where do you keep your mother's braid? Are your kids fighting over who is going to get it when you're long gone?

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  16. Hair receivers are new to me but what a good (and thrifty) idea. The jet beads are wonderful items to have in the family and I think you may be correct about the being for mourning .

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    1. Probably so. I can't quite picture Sudie doing the Charleston and swinging those beads.

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  17. Lovely beads. It is nice to have these treasures handed down.

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  18. Hmm, I didn't know they used to recycle hair in those days.

    And although finding a bag of hair could have been a bit disturbing or gross, on the other hand, as a genealogist, it could be rather fascinating as well.

    Those beads are great. What fun family heirlooms you have Wendy!

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    1. Had I been old enough to think genealogically, I would have grabbed a handful of that hair!

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    2. Wendy,

      I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at http://janasgenealogyandfamilyhistory.blogspot.com/2013/06/follow-friday-fab-finds-for-june-21-2013.html

      Have a great weekend!

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  19. It's possible the hair was to be used for a craft project. That was pretty common with picture frames and jewelry made out of it. So you might be on target for the ornament theme, it's just that it was to be eventually made from hair.

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    1. Women also stuffed pin cushions with hair.

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  20. I freak out when I find a hair, near food and elsewhere,
    imagine my reaction in I ever found a ratt!!!
    :D~
    When clearing my mom's things,
    I came across some of those jet jewellery.
    Didn't think much of it then,
    and got of them...
    :(~
    HUGZ

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    1. I don't want a hair near food either. We were at a very nice restaurant and had gotten about 3 bites into the dessert when my husband spied a hair. Our BALD waiter responded professionally and perfectly, but he did quip, "Well, it's certainly not mine!"

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  21. Like many above, I hadn't heard of a hair receiver previously. What a weird find.

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    1. I'm so rarely the one providing an "educational" post.

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  22. Hair receivers? Yeah, I knew about 'em, but I've never found a full one (or a rat, for that matter). I did find a postcard once that read: "Dear M: we got our rats all right." It took me a few minutes to figure out she wasn't taking about the rodent version!

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    1. Ha -- I'd love to see them with their rats.

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  23. Just now getting around to reading this. Hair receivers and jet beads are both new terms for me. And now that you have explained "ratt" - I suppose that when big hair was popular again in the 1960s and everyone "ratted" their hair the term came from this older usage of the word?

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    1. I bet you're right about the connection of ratts and ratted hair.

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  24. Nice to see this post got you a shout out from Jana's Genealogy & Family History Blog.

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    1. She is something! So supportive.

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