Thursday, 26 February 2015

Powder Carrots

Powder Carrots or powder bellows were essential to maintain the fashion of a powdered wig. It is pretty much a little, handheld bellow used to distribute the powder over the wig. That task would fall to a valet and would often take place in a separate room from where the dressing took place - otherwise there would be powder everywhere. Literally, everywhere. During this powdering process the gentleman (or lady) would be covered in the same type of clothes that hairdressers today strap around us.

Rare rosewood, horn and ebony wig powdering carrot. English,18th century. BM Gallery
Rosewood, horn and ebony powder carrot, English

Each carrot would be airtight with a little opening used to put new powder in it. Also, most of the bellows would have a rather narrow opening which lessened the risk of having to remove powder from one's ears for months..

Wig powderer, 18thC - Made from polished wood and brown leather with traces of powder inside. It is a truncated cone of leather on a metal spiral. At the smaller end there is a ring of wood with a fine metal mesh over a central hole. The wider end is a wooden disc that unscrews to open.
Polished wood and brown leather,

Here is the powder carrot that belonged to none other than the English George III who himself was very fond of the French fashion of tall, powdered wigs.

Another intriguing royal memento going under the hammer is a tiny pair of bellows used for powdering the wig of (the famously oft-times mad) King George III

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