Have you ever heard of a tussie-mussie? Spellcheck certainly hasn’t. Before cities had adequate fresh water and sewers, when horses filled the roads, the air was full of the foul smells of body odor and worse. A tussie-mussie was a fancy container that 18th- and 19th-century ladies could carry sweet-smelling flowers in to fight the ambient stench. Collector Irene Deitsch, who wrote Tussie-Mussies: A Collector’s Guide to Victorian Posy Holders, tells us about them.     

In her book, Deitsch organizes her tussie-mussies by their materials—sterling silver, silverplate, gold, ivory, glass, porcelain, mother-of-pearl, straw—as well as their styles—handheld vs. lapel pin, bosom bottle vs. three-legged tripod. While some of these objects may be admired for their beautiful enameling or intricate etching, many are also windows into the courtship customs of privileged young ladies during the Victorian Era, particularly in England. “Some have flirting mirrors on them,” Deitsch says, “so a young women carrying a tussie-mussie could see who was behind her.” Others sport small flat surfaces holding thin sheets of ivory, upon which the names of gentlemen desiring a dance would be written.

Learn more about tussie-mussies and how they were used, and see a gallery of lovely examples, at Collectors Weekly.

Newest 4
Newest 4 Comments

Double-checked. Tussie-mussies came about in the 18th century, stuck around a long time, and her book is about the Victorian era. I think I've fixed it as much as I could!
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
" the crowded cities of the Middle Ages"
The Middle Ages or medieval period lasted from the 5th to the 15th century That is: between 400 AD to 1400 AD.
"A tussie-mussie was a fancy container that 18th-century ladies could carry"
The 18th century lasted from January 1, 1701 to December 31, 1800: considerably after the Middle Ages.
" Tussie-Mussies: A Collector’s Guide to Victorian Posy Holders"
The Victorian era was the period of Queen Victoria's reign from 20 June 1837 until her death, on 22 January 1901. That is even later than the Middle Ages and certainly after the 18th century.

Just sayin . . .
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Login to comment.

Email This Post to a Friend

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.


Success! Your email has been sent!

close window

This website uses cookies.

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By using this website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

I agree
Learn More