Victorian Ornamental Hair Tree, ca. 1880

Value (2014) | $1,000 Auction$1,500 Auction

Well I brought a heirloom that came down through my family. I don't know anything about it really. I know that it's just intricate artwork but it's made of hair and that my great grandfather and grandmother owned it on my father's side. In my family, I had one older sister and she was always that thing is yours. I'm like good, thank you.

What you have is indeed a hair sculpture and it is in fact human hair. It typically would have a— it has a glass dome to protect it. I mean I know you have one, we took it off for purposes of the camera. They started doing these in the 1700s. But they really were most popular between 1850 and 1900. So they're often referred to as Victorian hair ornaments or Victoria hair jewelry.


In many cases, they were done from a perspective of mourning where it was the, it was taking a beloved lost one's hair and creating a sculpture that could then be a memory moving on. Often times, they weren't. They were done with groups of friends who got together and they would gather their hair and they would send them off to a group who would take them and would create them. And I doubt this is, would be a mourning piece. This doesn't strike it to me.

In a way, it's too happy.

It is very happy. For hair. Now we see hair wreaths all the time and hair jewelry all the time. What is rare is to see a tree. And as we went around, none of us had ever seen a hair tree. So as we went through and looked at it, and you know, it's all this wonderful work and your little bits here and little bits there and beads on the ends. And when you look at this a little creepy, maybe at times.

In a way and it's kind of cool to think that a group of maybe young women in the 1800s put it together.

It might seem a little creepy to us today but that's what, that was the time, that was the style and people did this and it's unbelievable work and most of the wreaths that you see, they're a $100, they're $200. And when you're able to put it together and see a tree like this, it's somewhat unprecedented. If you offered it at auction today, I think you can have an estimate of $1,000 to $1,500.

That's very exciting. I don't know that I would ever want to get rid of it.

It's a great piece and a wonderful example of Victorian hair art.

Appraisal Details

Quinn's Auction Galleries
Falls Church, VA
Appraised value (2014)
$1,000 Auction$1,500 Auction
Albuquerque, NM (July 19, 2014)

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