Most of the shops belonging to the historic trades of Colonial Williamsburg are decorated for the season just like the houses – but with a twist. While remaining within the guidelines for decorations (everything used must have been readily available in 18th c. Virginia, meaning no polyester ribbons, flashing electric Santas, or eucalyptus sprays), the tradesmen's wreaths often contain wry allusions to what goes on within the shop. The large, handsome wreath, above, appears at first glance to be squarely in the della Robbia tradition, with artichokes, pomegranates, straw flowers, and sliced oranges mixed with pine cones and spruce. But look a little closer: there's stitched and stuffed fruit in the mix as well. Gingham-check apples and ticking pears, plus cotton bolls, pay tribute to the work of the tailors and the mantua-makers employed here inside the Margaret Hunter shop.
The decoration, above, also reflects the shop's trade. Tucked in among the greenery, berries, and apples are a couple of powdered white queues, or pigtails, that could have graced the well-dressed head of an 18th c. gentleman or lady (though hardly in the same category as the false hair sported by this old beau!) The lower lock is tied with a black silk ribbon, while the upper one is still wrapped around its white clay curler. No surprise, then, that this wreath decorates the shop of the peruke and wig maker – a tradesman who would have been much in demand when everyone in the 18th c. town wanted to look their best for a holiday ball at the Governor's Palace.