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Mourning ring

Late 17th century

Gold ring, the round bezel with indented border set with a rose-cut crystal over monogram FC in gold thread, foliate shoulders with traces of black enamel

16.6 mm internal ring diameter; 2.6 g weight

Fanny Carpenter of the Herefordshire Carpenter family

Presented by Mrs Joyce Hicks, 2008; WA2008.70

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 By the seventeenth century, the tradition of bequeathing actual rings once owned by the departed was superseded by the allocation of money in a will for the purchase of new ones for a given list of recipients.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