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Mourning ring

England

Dated 1714

Gold ring, the bezel enamelled at the sides in blue, white and rose and set with a faceted crystal; inscribed within T.B. 13 Jan 1707. M.B. 24 May 1714

15.29 mm internal ring diameter; 3.3 g weight

Given to Fortnum by the Reverend J.E. Waldy

Presented by Dr C.D.E. Fortnum in honour of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, 1897; WA1897.CDEF.F648

Taylor and Scarisbrick, Finger Rings from Ancient Egypt to the present day, 1978, no. 798

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 By the seventeenth century, the tradition of bequeathing actual rings once owned by the departed was superseded by the allocation of money in a will for the purchase of new ones for a given list of recipients.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