Keli Gwyn
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‘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?


Keli Gwyn


  • Loree Huebner says:

    Very interesting post, Keli. I had heard of hair receivers, but I had never seen one. Being a living historian, I always adore these authentic tidbits of historic fashion.

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Loree, I know you share my love of history. 🙂

      I’m guessing you would have been just as excited to see those lovely hair receivers at the museum as I was. I find it interesting that the Victorians saved their loose hairs. Perhaps Locks of Love is our modern day equivalent.

  • I would have found it very interesting and intriguing to have the character save her hair in a hair receiver. These are the things that make a story stand out from others. I think it is sad it couldn’t have been included. (Spittoons are disgusting but are in many stories.)