Keli Gwyn
‘Way Back When’sday: Buttonhooks

Unlike us, the Victorians didn’t have zippers or Velcro. They relied heavily on buttons. Lots and lots of buttons.

The buttons were often small, making them difficult to slip through their buttonholes. Enter the buttonhook, a simple device that saved one’s fingers.


The hook was slipped through the buttonhole and around the button’s shank. A tug and a twist of the wrist later, and the button was in place.

Buttonhooks came many shapes and sizes. If you visit The Buttonhook Society, you can see a number of examples. The buttonhook seen above is one I purchased at a local antique shop.

Can you imagine having to fasten the buttons on a pair of Victorian boots, such as the ones below that I saw at the Placer County Museum in Auburn, California? Without a buttonhook, the task would be tiresome.

Boots at Placer Museum

Victorians had buttons on much more than just their boots. Jackets, bodices, waistcoats, gloves and corsets all had them. Thus, it’s easy to see why a Victorian lady or gentleman would have several buttonhooks. They might have longer models at home and a shorter version in their reticule or pocket.


Have you ever seen or used a buttonhook?

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Keli Gwyn
‘Way Back When’sday: Child’s Food Pusher Utensil

Babies in the Victorian Era had child-sized utensils, just like children do today.

The child’s table service below is on display
at the Bernhard Museum in Auburn, California.

Child's Table Service

While touring the museum, the docent pointed out the utensil
to the left of the cup. It’s call a food pusher.

Food Pusher

This special utensil helped a child transition from eating with the fingers
to using silverware. The youngster would use a food pusher to load
a bite onto a fork or spoon. Clever, isn’t it?


What unique utensils from yesteryear have you discovered?


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Keli Gwyn
‘Way Back Whens’day: Hair Receiver

Women’s hairstyles were often quite elaborate during the Victorian Era.

Often a hairstyle required more hair than a lady possessed. The solution was to make use of hair extensions.

Rich women could afford to buy hairpieces. Those with more modest budgets would carefully save loose strands of their hair pulled from their hairbrushes and create extensions of their own.

Special devices called hair receivers were used to store the rescued hairs.

Hair Receivers

The hair receivers pictured above are on display at the Bernhard Museum in Auburn, California.

Since I’m rather fond of the Victorian Era, I thought it would be fun to find a few treasures from the time.

Although I’ve always worn my hair short, I went in search of a hair receiver. I found a lovely one.

My Hair Receiver 1
This hair receiver above was made in Germany. The antique dealer I bought it from wasn’t sure when it was manufactured, but her best guess is that it’s from the 1800s.

My Hair Receiver 2

A hair receiver is a two-piece container, often made of porcelain.

I had one of my heroines use a hair receiver to save her loose hairs, but my editor asked me to remove that element from my story. Although the practice of saving hairs is historically accurate, she found it unappealing.

I removed the mention of the hair receiver, but I’m curious what you think? If you read a historical romance in which a woman saved her hair in a hair receiver, would it bother you?


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Keli Gwyn
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