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Mourning ring



Gold mourning ring, the rectangular bezel with hair in centre framed by a seed pearl border and outer border of black enamel, expanding hoop of three sections; inscribed Geo / Selby Eng/ Obt.31.Oct/ 1804/ aet.80

17.25 mm internal ring diameter; 4.6 g weight

Presented by Miss Dorothy Ellis, 1962; WA1962.28

George Selby, of Beal and Twizell, Northumberland, was father of Prideaux John Selby (1788-1867), the naturalist.

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 By the seventeenth century, the tradition of bequeathing actual rings once owned by the departed was superseded by the allocation of money in a will for the purchase of new ones for a given list of recipients.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