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Mourning ring

England

Dated 1817

Gold mourning ring, the oval bezel with plaited hair set in a crystal, surrounded by fourteen pearls, the hoop with flowers in relief; inscribed Ann Darby/ Ob 12 Sep 1817/ Aet 59 years

19.15 mm internal ring diameter; 5.96 g weight

Presented by Dr C.D.E. Fortnum in honour of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, 1897; WA1897.CDEF.F821

Taylor and Scarisbrick, Finger Rings from Ancient Egypt to the present day, 1978, no. 908

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 By the seventeenth century, the tradition of bequeathing actual rings once owned by the departed was superseded by the allocation of money in a will for the purchase of new ones for a given list of recipients.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