Mourning or Memorial?

March 10, 2010

I get asked the question a lot of what is mourning and what is memorial. Well, the answer to this question is actually quite a lot more detailed than you’d expect and before you go thinking that I’ll be posting on comparison pieces (that will come in later posts), this will deal with just the basics.

I believe this subject is quite in the semantics of the topic; mourning deals with the death of an immediate loved one, memorial deals with an event, which can also deal with a loved one by definition. How can the two cross over? Well, let’s look at it this way:

Lord Nelson’s death caused a ripple effect through British society, rings were made, memorial objects and items that would now be considered collectable were constructed to memorialise the occasion.

On the other hand, the death of Mary Ann Lewis on the 17th of December, 1852 at age 50 means little to the greater public. This is a woman who gave birth to several children in England and their progeny will doubtfully be reading this post. How do I know this? Well, apart from researching her history, I also own her mourning rings. Why were they mourning rings? They were rings built for specific people for a specific purpose. There won’t be a re-creation of these rings and they weren’t made en-masse for the public.

Is this a clear definition? No, clear definitions are in the eye of the beholder, but there is a distinction between pieces that were made for an event which may have caused a social change versus a piece or an event which did not. Does that invalidate the mourning piece? Of course not, at no time in history is one drop of blood worthy of a physical item, that is ridiculous, the piece means even more for that it is an individual thing which resonates the love of the person who wore it.

In future posts, I will discuss the difference between items and hopefully even argue with myself to find the true nature of a piece!

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