Hairwork Sample Card

English School19th Century

Cincinnati Art Museum

Cincinnati Art Museum
Cincinnati, United States

In addition to the individual hair worker, both jewelers and portrait miniaturists offered to create designs in human hair. This sample card displays various examples of ornamental hairwork elegantly set on velvet and outlined with gold metallic braid. Potential clients would choose a design from the sample card, which would then be inserted into the reverse of a portrait miniature’s case or individually framed inside a locket or brooch. Ornamental hairwork ranged in complexity from simple plaiting to exquisitely worked scenes that incorporated mourning iconography, which is explained in the nearby symbols key. All of the examples on this card are worked on a palette, a flat hard working surface made of china or glass. The hair, once cleansed of impurities, was saturated with an adhesive, laid flat on the palette, and curled or cut into various shapes.


  • Title: Hairwork Sample Card
  • Creator: English School
  • Date Created: 19th Century
  • Physical Dimensions: 8 5/8 x 6 1/4 in. (21.9 x 15.9 cm.)
  • Credit Line: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Fleischmann III
  • Accession Number: 2004.248
  • Medium: hair and ivory

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