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Mourning ring

England

Dated 1756

White enamel mourning hoop composed of linked scrolls; inscribed Bridget Marwood obit 9th Dec 1756 aged 79

17.64 mm internal ring diameter; 4.2 g weight

On loan from Evelyn Lee and Margaret Woodcock; LI1045.15

This style of mourning ring replaced the more macabre rings of the late seventeenth century and first half of the eighteenth century. The white enamel indicates that the deceased was unmarried.

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 By the seventeenth century, the tradition of bequeathing actual rings once owned by the departed was superseded by the allocation of money in a will for the purchase of new ones for a given list of recipients.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.