What is a Victorian hair receiver? Well, as the name suggests, they received hair!
Dating from Victorian times through the early 1950s, hair receivers were a fixture on the dressing tables of most fashionable ladies. They were designed to hold hair that was removed from hairbrushes after vigorous brushing, and they resemble vanity jars or powder jars, but with the distinctive feature of having a finger sized opening hole in the center of the lid. The comb would be run through the bristles of the hairbrush and the resultant hair accumulation would be coiled around a finger and then inserted into the opening of the hair receiver.
The uses of the hair was varied, but most frequently it was used in the creation of RATTS (aka rats) These were sheer hair nets that were stuffed full of the collected hair and then sewn shut. The ladies’ hairstyles of that time were fashionable buns and other "big hair" arrangements. So ratts provided a "stuffing" to enhance these hairstyles!
In addition to this use for the hair kept in hair receivers, ladies also used the collected hair for a variety of other things, including as stuffing in pin cushions, for which the oiled and scented hair of that time was well suited, as it lubricated the pins, making them easier to use. Small other cushions and pillows were also frequently stuffed with hair instead of feathers.
The hair would also be used in mourning traditions as well as celebration pieces. Chances are if you own a mourning brooch the hair was probably taken from one of these.