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Mourning ring

England

1831

Gold mourning ring, the bezel in the form of two hands holding a black and white enamel urn opening to reveal a glazed compartment; hallmarked for 1831, maker's mark WK

17.5 mm internal ring diameter; 4.5 g weight

On loan from Evelyn Lee and Margaret Woodcock; LI1045.10

The bezel formed as an urn is a feature first introduced in the mid-eighteenth century.

Mourning ring: The distribution of mourning rings to the friends and loved ones of the deceased dates back to the fourteenth century. By the seventeenth century, the tradition of bequeathing actual rings once owned by the departed was superseded by the allocation of money in a will for the purchase of new ones for a given list of recipients. The rings were inscribed with the name, date of death and age of the deceased and took on various forms depending on the fashion of the age. Their distribution finally dwindled in the nineteenth century following the invention of the photograph as an alternative keepsake.

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