In Memory of Collecting

For those who live in the wonderful state of Victoria, Australia; that time is upon you to do your antiquing duty! Yes, it’s the biggest and the best antique fair nearest to Melbourne; a place where you can go to spend excessive amounts of money and hunt for mysterious treasure.

I’ll be on the floor Tweeting and generally having a great time, so stop by and say hello if you’re near and make sure to leave that mourning jewellery for me!

Ballarat Antique Fair 2010
Sat 10, Sun 11, Mon 12 of March
Badminton Centre, Dowling St, Wendouree, Vic, 3355
> Website

Art of Mourning

December 11, 2011

In Memory of Collecting

Dear Mourners,

Since 2005, Art of Mourning has been your resource for memorial and sentimental jewels. As of today, Art of Mourning can now be found at:

This ‘blog’ will no longer be updated, rather, all updates will be found at – which will keep you updated with everything related to memorial, mourning, sentimental jewels and art.

Please update your subscriptions and RSS feeds for the new site, I promise that there’s much more memorial madness to come!

The mourning era begins here!

In Memory of Collecting

One of the things I love most, next to educating the world about the virtues of mourning jewellery, is informing people to go to your nearest antique fair and spend as much money as you possibly can! Being a lad who is situated in Melbourne, Australia, I have an obvious slant towards advertising the fairs nearest to me (if you have any nearby, let me know and I’ll post them on the blog).

This weekend is ‘The Way We Wear Fair’, which is one of the best, or dare I say, bespoke fairs that I go to. It caters to jewellery, clothes and antique/vintage fashion. Yes, I can almost guarantee that you’ll find some mourning/sentimental magic there.

So, if you live within a good drive of Williamstown, why not come along? I’ll be there, Tweeting from the floor, no doubt, and enjoying the moment. We can catch up and antique together if you like. See you tomorrow!

Admission Costs
Adults $12.00, Concession/Child $10.00 (10+), Family $30.00
Fair Hours
Saturday 19 November 10am-5pm , Sunday 20 November 10am-4pm
The Williamstown Town Hall, 104 Ferguson Street, Williamstown, Victoria
> Link to Website

Following on from Part 1 of our little book review adventure, here are a few books that may or may not be essential to your collecting, but they are are great to have!

du Tertre, Nancy., The Art of the Limoges Box, 2003, Harry N. Abrams, Inc (Amazon)
This book certainly isn’t essential to the mourning or sentimental collector, but it does have some wonderful examples and shows the peripherals of what can be found in sentimental objects. The book is mostly pictorial and should really be entertained as such, a great little book for having handy on a lazy day or for referencing.

Evans, Joan., A History of Jewellery 1100-1870, 1953, Faber and Faber
Evans is one of the better writers on the subject of historical jewellery and this book shows why. With an unflinching knowledge of such a broad subject, she traverses the years with ease and shows some of the most intricate historical examples and how they weave into social history. Highly academic and highly entertaining, this book isn’t for the casual or the curious, you have to really look deep into the past for this one. Go get it, scholar!

Frank, Robin Jaffe., Love and Loss American Portrait and Mourning Miniatures, 2000, Yale University Press (Amazon)
Oh, how I adore this book. Frank really selects her pieces for display carefully, nothing seems arbitrary at all, as she weaves a solid, involving and intricate history of American Portrait and Mourning Miniatures. I highly recommend this book to go with British Portrait Miniatures or The Portrait Miniature in England, you won’t be disappointed.

Hinks, Peter., Nineteenth Century Jewellery, 1975, Faber and Faber (Amazon)
There are some wonderful examples and anecdotes in this book by Peter Hinks, he unearths some little known facts about 19th century jewellery and that makes for a good companion piece to other jewellery books on the era.

Knowles, Eric., Miller’s Victorian Antiques Checklist, 2000, Octopus, (Amazon)
No, I don’t really know why this book is here at all, but I did buy it when the collecting beast was wildly prowling Eastern Europe for something shiny and old to buy. It only made those pangs a whole lot worse. Basically, it’s a pocket book that you can keep handy with a few photo references and small blurbs to go with each, as most Miller’s books are. Really quite good if you’re brand new to collecting and need a point of reference, also good if you’re starting out and need to know about other contemporary styles.

Luthi, Ann L. , Sentimental Jewellery, 2002, Shire Publications (Amazon)
Luthi is one of the finest writers and most knowledgeable people on the topic of sentimental jewellery, hence it is only fitting that this book is authored by her. For such a small book, this is deceptively full and quite handy for any collector. A great overview and a great point of reference with a very broad, global slant that covers all the necessary periods of sentimental jewellery. For the new collector, it’s one of the most invaluable books you can own, for the seasoned collector, you should have this anyway.

Over at my website Art of Mourning, I’ve got a reasonably comprehensive list of the essential books to buy if you like the old jewellery and I’ll repost them here with some brief thoughts:

Bell, Jeanenne., Collector’s Encyclopedia of Hairwork Jewellery, 1998, Collector Books (Amazon)
Bell’s book on hairwork jewellery is a nice overview of the form and gives many random facts, I feel that it’s a necessary book to have for references (especially with the catalogues in the back) and her knowledge of hair weaves really comes in handy when you’re evaluating pieces. Her writing doesn’t discuss much about the historical context of the pieces or the references, but it is a nice collection of facts.

Burke, L., The Illustrated Language of Flowers, 1856, A. Routledge & Co.
Rather essential if you’re keen on learning all about the classification of sentimental symbolism. Also helpful if you’re an art critique, as the symbolism was quite transient across mediums.

Burns, Stanley., Sleeping Beauty Memorial Photography in America, 1990, Twelvetrees Press
An absolutely wonderful overlook of its time and subject. Burns quite rightly narrows his gaze to American photography and really excels at an academic and also entertaining view of photography (for the layman and scholar).

Bury, Shirley., An Introduction to Sentimental Jewellery, 1985, Her Majesty’s Stationery Office (Amazon)
Bury is one of the foremost writers and academics on the subject of sentimental jewellery and even this quick introduction to sentimental jewellery puts anything I’ve ever written to shame. She has a wonderful way of knowing her subject, balancing it with its time and giving it perfect historical context in relation to other jewellery, culture and society. Magnificent!

Campbell, Mark. (Kliot, J & K, ed)., The Art of Hairwork Hair Braiding and Jewelry of Sentiment with Catalog of Hair Jewellery, 1989, Lacis Publications
You probably shouldn’t be reading this site if you haven’t got a copy, downloaded a copy or at least have seen pages copied in other books.

A great look into not only the hairweaving process, but the industry and society of the time.

This book is also a wonderful reference for your hairwork jewellery – matching your pieces to the book will give you a very good insight into how they were constructed.

Coombs, Katherine., The Portrait Miniature in England, 1998. V&A Publications (Amazon)
This book gets into the depth of the miniature portrait and also is very approachable. If you want to look at miniatures and their relation to society and other jewellery, go get it. In another post, you’ll see a beautiful companion to this book based purely on American miniature portraits (more on that another day), so if you have this book, you’ve got a wonderful overview of early modern portraits. For those who just like a good picture, beautiful images abound!

Cooper, D., Battershill, N., Victorian Sentimental Jewellery, 1972, David & Charles LTD (Amazon)
Cooper’s approach to sentimental jewellery is also a nice overview of sentimental jewellery and it’s wisely focused directly upon Victorian. This book doesn’t aim too board, so it can focus upon the many different variations of Victorian jewellery and its symbolism. A great reference if you were wonderful what peripheral symbols were in Victorian jewellery and their inception. This covers jet and everything in between.

DeLorme, Maureen., Mourning Art and Jewelry, 2004, Schiffer Publishing (Amazon)
DeLorme’s views on peripheral funeralia are wonderful and a joy to read. This is very much for the new collector and also a good reference for the veteran. Her approach, while global in intent, exceeds at giving an American perspective. Great references, images and more! Go get it if you haven’t.

There’s been a lot of discussion about the limits of what a fake or a forgery is over at the Art of Mourning Facebook Group and I thought I’d open up the floor to a little discussion (feel free to join in over at the group) and add a bit of commentary.

I’ve mentioned before that I began Art of Mourning as a tool to put down as much knowledge as possible before my loved ones eventually require a mourning ring made up of myself and to dispel as much fiction surrounding a piece for the new collector or the seller who isn’t completely sure of what they have in their hands.

Once upon a time, an antique dealer once said to me that the best sellers in the world are the ones that listen to the collector and absorb the knowledge, as opposed to being seemingly knowledgeable over a large area of collectables. The collector has the passion, the collector is the boffin who spends their life in pursuit of a singular item.

However, it’s no secret that there are items out there which are reproduced for the singular purpose of monetary gain and to obfuscate the collector. These exist and are sold under the pretence of being something they are not, something which does not represent the past but is clearly being sold as a piece from the past.

For those who have been collecting antiques or are very knowledgeable about them, there’s an understanding that these items have always existed and there’s not much one can do apart from learning more about the subject and being deceived. Then, there is the new collector or person who may be fooled by the piece, thinking it too good to be true or a genuine item. Here is where there is a grey area surrounding whether or not to directly engage with them and identify that the piece is an obvious forgery, or to turn the other cheek.

I’ve written the articles below early on to try and identify what constitutes as a fake or forgery and I hope you can find the time to breeze through them. There are many other areas of forgery, usually found on eBay, that are new productions, but there is more difficultly in identifying repair work and revival periods.

> Spotting Fakes and Forgeries: Contemporary Pieces

> Spotting Fakes and Forgeries: Plastic, Odd Materials and Repairs

> Spotting Fakes and Forgeries: Hallmarks

> Spotting Fakes and Forgeries: Gold Content

> Spotting Fakes and Forgeries: How to Spot the Forgery

> Spotting Fakes and Forgeries Conflicting Styles

> Spotting Fakes and Forgeries: Mourning and Sentimental Art Revivals / Part 6

> Spotting Fakes and Forgeries: Mourning and Sentimental Art Revivals / Part 5

> Spotting Fakes and Forgeries: Mourning and Sentimental Art Revivals / Part 4

> Spotting Fakes and Forgeries: Mourning and Sentimental Art Revivals / Part 3

> Spotting Fakes and Forgeries: Mourning and Sentimental Art Revivals / Part 2

> Spotting Fakes and Forgeries: Mourning and Sentimental Art Revivals / Part 1

> Spotting Fakes and Forgeries: Mourning and Sentimental Art Revivals: Spotting

So, please stop by the Facebook Group and lend your opinion!

Kyneton Antique Fair, 2011

September 1, 2011

I’ve been to this fair for the last two years and it’s never let me down. Not only is it in one of my favourite areas (perhaps I’ll be living there soon!), but the town has many wonderful events surrounding this and the Daffodil & Arts Festival at the same time. So, if you appreciate good food and wine, you won’t be disappointed. When you combine that with amazing antiques, I think that pretty much sums up my reason for being on the planet. So, come along if you’re in Australia, spend a few days and enjoy!

Kyneton Antique Fair, 2011
Friday, 2nd September 5pm-8pm
Saturday, 3rd September 5pm-8pm
Sunday, 4th September 5pm-8pm

Kyneton Town Hall,
Mollison Street, Kyneton 3444
Admission: Adults $7 / Children Free

Enquiries: (Aus) 0411 208 448 /


Monday Mourning

August 15, 2011

Memories are the essential reason for the creation of these wonderful gems that we adore so much and it is through the further learning and interaction with them that future generations can keep them alive in both the physical and educational sense.

On that note, it’s great to see that so many of you are out there and joining in! I created Art of Mourning six years ago to pass on the knowledge I have to keep these pieces alive and to educate as many as possible about them, now it’s become a busy Facebook page, a Twitter feed for everything memorial and curious and now there’s a growing number of contributors to the site!

Marielle Soni has written some fabulous articles (with many more to come) and now Sarah Nehama, jeweller and long-time collector, is the newest addition to the Art of Mourning family!

For those who are new to the site, why not go back through the archives, search for a random word or year, join in with the group on Facebook (feel free to say hi, post what you like and don’t be shy) and if you have a spare moment, here are some random links:

Like photography? Here’s a series on photography in jewellery (not for the faint of heart with post-mortem photography and spirit photography):
> Photography in Jewellery (Parts 1-7)

How about spotting some analysis for all you curious types?
> Is It, Or Isn’t It? Heart Pendant – First Impressions

The seeds are delicious and it can be used to make some rather addictive substances, but what about poppy symbolism in jewellery and art?
> Symbolism Sunday, The Poppy

Let’s look at a brooch, how it applies to trade in the late 18th century and why seed pearls are so damn lovely:
> Pearl and Blue Glass/Enamel Brooch: How Trade Opened Up New Possibilities in the 18th Century

Ok, if you’re new, welcome to Art of Mourning and if you’re a long-time reader – thank you. Without you, none of this would be possible and keep those memories alive!

My Own Grand Tour

August 10, 2011

I’m going abroad, departing on a treasure hunt in less than a week!

Although my destinations are further north than the traditional Grand Tour, nonetheless there is plenty for me to explore. However, I would love some input into suggested museums, particularly smaller or private ones in Prague, Vienna, Hamburg and Berlin. Do you know any that you would recommend?

The Victoria & Albert Museum London. I'm hoping to see some of Dame Joan Evans' collection there.

Also, and most importantly, can you recommend any antique markets, shops and dealers that might be off the beaten track?

I am definitely visiting Gray’s Antiques and Alfies Antiques in London, not to mention the V&A and British Museum – it would be a travesty not too.

Gray's Antiques London - my Nirvana

So, please comment or contact me with any suggestions for London, Vienna, Prague, Hamburg and Berlin. If my entree into the virtual world proves to be stable and functioning I will do my utmost to keep you posted of adventures and finds.

I promise to write!

– Marielle Soni

In Memory of Collecting

A collector is truly the fabric that binds history. Without the collector, the history and the stories of all that have come before would be lost, we carry this knowledge from generation to generation and honour all that has come before. And of course, to collect means to be a part of a bigger whole, a community of collectors and storytellers who can take the message of this history out to a larger audience.

I created Art of Mourning as a way to weave together collectors from around the world, as a place to use my knowledge to share and expand upon this magnificent facet of history in jewellery. Mourning, memorial and sentimentality are at their essence love and to keep those memories alive by sharing knowledge down the generations means that the history and the people involved with these tokens of affection will never die as long as they are remembered.

So, it is on this occasion, much like the established Facebook Group (which I welcome you all to join!) that I share the blog with other collectors and historians. Marielle Soni, a fellow collector, will be sharing her brilliant knowledge and passion for memorial jewels in future posts. Her insights and history of collecting will no doubt inspire and educate generations of collectors, so look out for her posts in the coming days and weeks!

Wow, take a deep breath and enjoy this wonderful miniature from Barbara Robbins – if you like what you see, why not visit and learn more about wonderful memorial miniatures!

Mourning Miniature in Original Box

Mourning Miniature in Original Box

Mourning Miniature in Original Box

19th century harp brooch

Obscura in New York (280 East 10th Street) is a brilliant store run by an equally brilliant man named Mike, if you’re in the area, please go visit and tell him that Hayden from Art of Mourning sends his regards.

I bought this piece there and I could harp on about it forever. Well, let’s do just that in this little excerpt from the Symbolism post on the Harp in jewellery:

“(the harp) is not only a visually opulent instrument, but the sound is almost ethereal. Some of the earliest depictions of the harp in art are from the 13th century B.C..E at Thebes, but in more recent times (from the 9th century C.E), Ireland adopted the harp as a national symbol in 1542 to symbolise Ireland in the Royal Standard of King James VI. Harps were associated also with David in the Old Testament and used as the symbol of St. Cecilia, patron saint of musicians. But if seen on jewellery, or in funerary art, it can be seen as a symbolic of worship in heaven or hope. Look for the harp most commonly in Victorian charms and latter 19th century silver pieces in motif form, but only sparingly (often a lyre) in Neoclassical pieces.”

19th century harp brooch

I know it’s not Symbolism Sunday, but this one is worthy of a very big article, so I’ll show it here and write more about it in the future. I saw it in London and was immediately transfixed. There are several reasons why people collect; for some, it’s the having, for others, it’s the accumulation and compulsion, others, education and continuity. For me, I fall into the latter and when I see something with such strange symbolism or odd construction.

This ring has some of the strangest Neoclassical symbolism and I open the door for interpretation! Take a look and comment below:

Neoclassical Symbol Ring Mourning

Neoclassical Symbol Ring Mourning

Another year and I can’t wait to discover new treasures. If you’re in the Melbourne area, come along and we can do some treasure hunting together:

MELBOURNE ANTIQUES FAIR brings the best expo of antiques and fine art to the traditional home of Melbourne’s Antiques Fairs – Malvern Town Hall in the leafy inner east.

This quality Fair presents antique furniture and décor, works of art (portraits, oils, watercolours), original prints & maps, Australiana, Art Deco, clocks & timepieces, bronzes, lamps, sterling silver, ceramics & glass, antiquities, jewellery and rare objects.

Choose eclectic objects to reflect your personality. Meet enthusiastic experts who know what today’s collectors are looking for. Start collecting!”

Gala Preview
Thursday, June 9, 6.30pm-9.30pm

Friday, June 10, 10.00am-7.00pm
Saturday, June 11, 10.00am-5.00pm
Sunday, June 12, 10.00am-5.00pm
Monday, June 13, 10.00am-4.00pm

Parking: On Street parking.

Transport to the door by tram to Cnr Glenferrie Rd & High St: Route 6, Stop 44.

I make no apologies for my love of antique/vintage costume, I grew up with costumiers and if it wasn’t for my love of history and fashion, I doubt I’d be writing to you now. So, if you have time this weekend, come along and enjoy!

Melbourne Show
27 – 29th May 2011

Epsom Road, Ascot Vale VIC 3032

Fri 27th May 2011     5.30pm – 9pm
Sat 28th May 2011    9.30am – 5.30pm
Sun 29th May 2011 10.00am – 4.00pm

I’ve got a lot of love for this fair and unfortunantly I’ll be in Europe and not available to go, so if you’re around the area, please go along and make my jealous by writing about your experiences in the comments!

35th Annual Geelong Antique Fair 2010
Event Date:
Fri, 14/05/2010 – 10:00am – Sun, 16/05/2010 – 7:00pm

Pakington Street, Geelong West, $8 entry, $6 concession

Friday May 14th 10.00am – 7.00pm
Saturday May 15th 10.00am – 7.00pm
Sunday May 16th 10.00am – 5.00pm

Hold the Shank, Redux

April 22, 2011

One of the easiest ways to spot the age of a ring is from the shank. Don’t believe me? Well, you’re in for a shock. What’s the best way to tell a piece verging on Rococo from Baroque? If you’re excellent with your Stuart Crystals, then you know your stuff, but for the rest of us simple folk, we need a good point of reference.

Read on for a quick guide!

Read the rest of this entry »

In the interests of my fellow Melbournian collectors who visit the blog, I like to keep everyone updated on the local events (if you want me to highlight a fair in your local area, please let me know, it could be anywhere in the world!).

1912 Titanic Mourning BearToday is an obscure one but as I’ve highlighted before, things like the Titanic Mourning Bear do pop up in some capacity, so it’s relevant and a hell of a lot of fun.

This one is:

The Annual 28th Doll Fair

Malvern Town Hall (Mel Ref: 59 D7)

April 16th (Saturday): 10am-4pm
April 17th 10am-3:30pm

One of the joys and perils of knowing a little bit about old jewellery is that people want to know what they have. Though Antiques Roadshow makes it look very easy to spot a piece and be able to wax lyrical about it for hours on end, the truth of the matter is that a lot of research goes into a single viewing. Personally, I like to be certain about a piece and I can often be wrong, so in the interest of opening the door for all us amateur historians, let’s take a quick look at this pendant and try to reach some conclusions.

Stylistically, it lends itself to the first half 18th century, the lack of facets and the curve to the crystal is more common with that era, as opposed to the sharper edges of the earlier times. Then there is the conflict of the cipher inside, which is more common with earlier pieces, but for the period of 1680-1740, that was quite common, so it’s not really a conflict at all.

You’ve got the fleur-de-lis forming together the crown, which is rather nice, though they are a little ill-defined for a piece of high quality, though that could simply be the pictures.

Also, the wire-work to the surrounding gold is rather simply done in that it is uneven and forms heavier at the bottom in the dollop of gold.

With the arrow and quiver, you’ve got the motifs for mortality, so that combined with the initials up front makes it quite likely a mourning piece. The crown may denote either a literal or figurative connection with royalty (to be considered royalty or actual aristocracy) and all in all, I rather like it.

It’s obviously had a bit of a life as well, I think the imperfections make it special, but as far as a ‘Georgian Heart’ goes, I think it fits the category well.

But, is any of that correct? This piece was submitted by Rob Jackson and this is the first time I’ve seen it. I’ve made some rather grand statements and I’d prefer to back a lot of it up with proper evidence. What are your thoughts?

*Gasp* Had enough of the antique fair rush, yet? Lots more to come! Here’s one that’s full of goodies and worth a look:

March 19th – Mount Waverley Collectables Fair, Miller St, Mount Waverley, VIC

In Memory of Collecting

The Ballarat Antique Fair is an institution unto itself. This is a fair that has not only endured, but grown with time, one that has become the strongest antique fair in Victoria, due to its size and strength in diversity. Where Park Lane’s (a now closed antique institution in Melbourne) long running Caulfield Racecourse Antique Fair had the best of Australia, the Ballarat Antique Fair feels like its natural successor, having a great mix from around the country in vintage to antique collectables, no matter what shape or size.

Once upon a time, the Ballarat Antique Fair was held in two venues in the main city, with a bus to ferry you in between. This was obviously not the most ideal situation, as for the past several years, the fair has been held in the Badminton Centre just outside of town.

As usual with the fair, the signage was rather poor entering the city. There are four exits into Ballarat and you have to wait until the last one to enter, otherwise you have to navigate the town to get there, so those who don’t know only have small signs to indicate the way, stuck underneath regard road signs. I felt that upon making the right turn in, one sign was rather poorly placed, as the arrows (at a left-right junction) were hidden (you had to turn left), so those new to the fair wouldn’t know where to turn. Nothing horrid, but not the best advertisement for the fair.

As usual, the venue wasn’t well off for air conditioning. The centre is a good size for vendors, but when the weather heats up, the experience can be oppressive. This year, I dressed appropriately in sandals (and rolled up velvet pants) to keep cool, as the temperature was gaining on 30 degrees Celsius. It was a correct move, but a cool change came in later to alleviate the oppressive heat.

Those who read my blog last year heard of it being crowded and rather violent (yours truly found himself being assaulted by senior ladies, including a solid punch to the kidneys and a head-butt that had to be seen to be believed), however this year it was rather a lean crowd, but one to accommodate the venue well. One could walk around, not be pushed aside and generally enjoy the atmosphere. I’ll also recommend the home made jam, preserves and fudge – the definition of heaven.

But this is a jewellery blog and you want to know how it went. I’ll try my best to reflect on that…

I entered and after submitting my door prize, found myself going to the far right hand corner of the fair, where my good friends at Grange Antiques often set up their display and offer me things that I really want to buy. This year, there were two hair bracelets that certainly got my blood racing, but they were a touch on the far side of comfortable in terms of price. More astoundingly were the taxidermy heads (bison, giraffe) that they bought in. I wish I had 12ft ceilings to accommodate such brilliance, but I’ll wait until I can afford a Victorian hunting room first.

I tend to glaze over with most furniture and porcelain unless it really grabs my attention, however, never look over Online Antiques who are one of the best sellers of Art Deco in Australia. The good Lady K is a big fan of Art Deco and I grew up in a family that loves (I’m an anachronistic throwback), so I did have a good look through and the ladies there did not disappoint.

Rather than get caught in details, I will say that Pendulum Antiques, Lanzay Antiques, Le Sande Antiques, Marsteen Antiques and Mudgee Antiques had some real quality in their pieces. Marsteen has a particularly lovely set of brooches with nuggets of gold mined from Ballarat mixed in with the hairwork in brooches and one day I will own them…

So, I passed by two hairwork bracelets, some nice early 19th century brooches (paste/hair/rectangular), a hariwork serpent with emerald eyes (but the hairwork was ruined) that I had to let go. There was a Georgian heart with hair that was cheap and very interesting, but made me think twice, so as with our judicial system, if there’s room for doubt, you must acquit.

Where I ended up conceding defeat was in one stall. The vendors I had met previously (the two gents are from Tasmania), though when I wanted to buy from them at the Avoca Antique Fair, a charming lady occupied their time for over twenty minutes and prevented contact of my credit card to their hand. Thankfully, the same pieces were there and I leapt upon a late 18th century navette brooch. There was another paste/hair/rectangular early 19th century brooch, but I have dozens of them, so I let it go. I did see a blue enamel pinchbeck brooch, but as is the case with much mid 19th century brooches, they can be dinged about and doctored, so this wasn’t as perfect as I’d like.

Next was my love or horology, so I sprung upon some upside-down watches in the back of a cabinet. The size looked right (I have dainty wrists) for a lady and I wanted something in gold. I asked them about it and they bought out one with the most charming face, which reminded me of a watch I used to wear in the last century. It was said to keep brilliant time (and it does), so I didn’t hesitate. Next was the other watch, an early Rolex, once again, with a brilliant face and the most elegant hands. Of course I had to have it. They took out a hairwork fob chain with pearls and garnets in pristine condition and a locket on the end. What’s a Hayden to do except buy these things?

Charming company, great prices and the lack of any pretension = sales in my book, they could almost have put just about anything in front of me then and I would have bought it. So, if you’re in Ulverstone, Tasmania, rattle the cages of the lads at the Leven Antiques Centre at 23 King Edward Street and you won’t be disappointed.

I’ve got to say, it’s days like that which make entities like eBay seem shameful and depressing. Yes, you can get what you like in terms of instant gratification, but interacting with people, discovering treasure within dark cabinets and actually feeling that passion for collecting is in our DNA and thick within the blood that pumps through our veins.

Thank you to everyone who followed my adventures on Twitter (visit the Art of Mourning account here) and I will be heading overseas next month for some time, so if you want to follow me around the world (US first, Europe second), I’ll be giving you updates on all my adventures.

Image Link > View images from the floor of the fair here

Image Link > View images of my odds and ends here

Here comes the big one! I’ve been saving money for this little adventure, so I hope to be Tweeting from the floor about my experiences, follow me and enjoy the ride. If you’re in the area, come along and let’s discover some treasure together!

12th-14th – Ballarat Antique Fair, Wendouree Badminton Centre, Wendouree, VIC

For those who visit this site and experience a new/different area of jewellery that is part of cultrual and social history, I welcome you and thank you for your time to read my ramblings.

Art of Mourning has been around for 6 years now and I’ve been collecting for a further 10. The idea for writing down my knowledge came about from my hope to educate, inspire and ignite a new interest in this wonderful area of social/art history to promote new collectors and even a new industry based around the culture of mourning and sentimentality.

This is a concept based upon love, not morbidity or the affectation of death, but love itstelf.

So, to commemorate the occasion, please click over to an interview with me at Collectors Weekly to discover a little bit more about myself, search through the archives of Art of Mourning or visit the parent site itself.

> Link: Hayden Peters Interview with Collectors Weekly

As usual with mourning, there is never an end, but a continuity and memory of everything before and we have much ground to cover. Keep reading, as there is much to come!

Read More:

Mourning and Sentimental Symbolism in Jewellery

Spotting Forgeries. Fakes and the History of Reproductions

If you’re close to Melbourne City, this one is quite good to find some wonderful items. Be quick, or I’ll get them first!

“Antiques in Autumn at the Box Hill Town Hall will take place on Saturday 5th March and Sunday 6th March 2011, from 9am to 5pm on both days.

We aim to bring to you a range of quality antiques and collectables, from furniture, to china, glass, silver, books and many more categories with over 50 individual exhibitors from all over Australia.

Our craftsmen will be demonstrating various forms of restoration work at intervals through out both days, this is a must see for anybody wishing to rescue a dilapidated piece of furniture and maybe even turning it into a family heirloom.

Our cafe will be open from 9am to 5pm on both days for morning teas, light lunches and afternoon teas.Entrance fees are $10 adult accompanied children under 15 free and seniors $8.

Exhibitors enquiries most welcome.”

Antiques in Autumn | Box Hill Town Hall

Whitehorse Road  Box Hill Victoria  Australia.  View Map Map opens in new browser window
Telephone: 0439 655026

It’s going to be a busy weekend for those in Melbourne, so I hope you have a car and a lot of dosh.

Coming up is the Maryborough Antiques & Collectors Fair, at  Neill St, Maryborough, VIC, 5th – 6th of March! If you travel up there, go to Station Antiques and have a fabulous lunch, their regional nosh is delicious.

Often when discovering a new piece, one can be swayed with the eternal question of price vs quality. Let’s take a look at this wonderful brooch from 1846 and discuss this very point.

1846 Mourning Brooch with Broken Glass

This particular brooch has quite a lot of history behind it. To its credit, it has a wonderful inscription, dedicated to ‘Nathan Slofson – Born June 24 1838 – Obt Sep 7 1846. Aged 8 year and 3 mo’, a dedication which denotes a full name, age and date. For many pieces dating from the 19th century, the pieces were re-appropriated and many of the dedications have been lost over time – often removed by jewellers looking to resell or used again within the family. This is nothing new, it happens today, as a piece with a blank slate is obviously much more marketable towards someone who may want to use it for their own personal grief or sentimentality.

As well as this, we have that the glass is still in place and the hair is underneath. Moving back to the idea of re-appropriation, often the glass has been replaced by a jewel. This can be for second/third stage mourning if created this way in its original format, however, much of the time it harkens back to a seller trying to remove any taint of previous sentimental attachment or selling the piece again under the pretext of it not being used for mourning.

Mourning has a stigma of being morbid and a fascination that has become disconnected with the honest love and sentimentality of the time. More so, this was a fashion, related to presentation of family sentiment in accordance to social necessity. High mortality rates combined with the harder 19th century return to the ideals of the Christian family unit (in Western culture) created the establishment of the matriarchal centre of the family. Hence, a woman in mourning becomes the focus of the family in mourning.

Reflecting on this piece, one can note the floral Gothic Revival articulation to shape and design that became popular from the 1830s. Here, the sharp edges have taken over from the rounded shapes of Neoclassicism and the heavy floral gold-work (called ‘pie-crust’ by some) shows the dense acanthus design prevalent with Gothic Revival mourning rings and peripheral jewellery. The hairwork is naive, but perhaps affected by the broken glass in the centre.

1846 Mourning Brooch with Broken Glass

Leading us back to this piece is the question – ‘should I buy it due to damage?’ I’ve covered off in my Faux Friday articles that many pieces have been doctored throughout history by sellers to improve value. This is a hard thing to reconcile, as (much for the reasons why I educate on the topic of mourning jewellery), the collector should know what they’re buying. Often, however, a piece is sold as perfect and clean when it is not. It doesn’t matter the level of the seller, high or low end, these pieces exist and sometimes aren’t completely known to the seller, but quite often they are.

So it comes down to personal preference. Could you alter a piece in a modern environment that doesn’t have the same techniques to restore a piece to its original state? To alter this piece, the glass would be imperfect. Glass replacements to find a convex dome that would emulate this 1-1 is quite difficult today and to do it properly would cost more than the value of the piece and probably more than it would ever be worth. So, is it an emotional attachment that would make a person do this?

You can find pieces like it with replaced glass (sometimes plastic) that have bevelled edges, which is a telltale sign. Personally, I find it important to understand what you’re buying and if the price is right, then do it.

But to alter a piece that is as honest as this, with the dedications in place, the passage of time that got it to this point is written upon its face. This piece tells a tale of living through the centuries in its perfect form and this is how it should be appreciated.

Dedication: Nathan Slofson – Born June 24 1838 – Obt Sep 7 1846. Aged 8 year and 3 mo
Courtesy: Amanda Legare

Feeling like finding some treasure? Then get ready for the Maldon Antique and Collectables Fair (which I do believe to have some wonderful regional dealers). If you’re in the state of Victoria, come along!

19—20 Feb 2011
Frances St.
Maldon VIC 3463

An up and comming event, quickly becoming the “must attend” of the antique fair calender.Held over 2 days on the lush grassy surface of the Maldon Footbal oval, over 120 stalls offering antiques and collectables from all over Australia. public addmission just $2 kids free,opening hours 8.00am till 5.00pm.Stall holders $75 with FREE CAMPING on site. great public and stall holder amenities, ATMs in town ample parking lots to see and do plus and antique fair, to boot

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It’s been a wonderful year for us all and I hope that the new year brings you all that you require and desire!

One thing that collecting antique memorial and sentimental jewellery can teach us is to treasure those around us, savour every moment you have with your loved ones and relish those to come. We’re all lucky to have what we do and now is a good time to reflect upon that and learn from what has come before, so we can use the knowledge of the past to apply in the future. I have a feeling that there are some wonderful moments to come this year, so savour the moment and have a great 2011!

Once upon a time I was travelling the continent and happened upon a small shop on the outskirts of an even smaller city.

Being a lad who still has a mediocre grasp of the English language, I was bumbling around this European city with mostly sign language and exaggerated facial gestures.

Nevertheless, I found this small shop that was overcrowded with collectables, dust and dirt. The acrid air hung heavy with mould and dampness. My little heart raced with excitement, as I felt there was a treasure to be found.

After thirty minutes of rifling through cardboard boxes and other assorted bric-a-brac, I was resigned to leaving empty handed. I walked out, rather jaded.

I had lunch in a café not very far away and decided to walk back past the old store. It was shut, but I thought I’d look in the window. And there I saw it. A beautiful neo-classic ring, buried under silverware, broken picture frames and pottery. The piece looked dusty, but otherwise in good condition. It was the unmistakeable weeping widow beneath the willow with the tomb in the centre. The piece looked to be in relief, with the tomb itself built up.

After my heart started beating again, I walked to the door and knocked. No answer. For the rest of the afternoon, I travelled back and forth waiting for them to reopen. I even continued to after sundown.

The following day, I was there at dawn. Still closed. All through the day I continued to stalk the property (I’m surprised the police weren’t called). Still nothing.

The tragedy was that I had to depart that city the following day. They never opened, even after trying to talk to the locals to see if they knew who owned the store.

So, my question is, have you ever lost out to that ideal piece? As collectors, sometimes you have to learn to let things go because it wasn’t meant to be. For you, what’s the one that got away?

Replacement Glass on Neoclassical Mourning RingYou may not believe it, but if you’ve paid a very high premium from a distinguished and respected dealer, you may not be getting what you think.

No, it’s not a fake or a fraud, but re-enamelling, touching up, replacing glass and doing things which some purists may be alarmed by is quite a typical practice.

I’ve talked with dealers who don’t bat an eyelid and have spoken about selling some primary historical examples but admit to having re-touched them up. I even recall one doing such arbitrary patchwork that would make even Arthur Evans blush.

There are some tell-tale signs, often glass is hard to replicate in the same manner with convex glass, even the glass can be replaced by a plastic.

Sepia re-touching isn’t uncommon, if your sepia looks very crisp, there’s a good chance coloured ink or some paint has been applied. Some things don’t keep well for over 200 years and the ability of a particular dealer to keep finding that amazing piece time and time again can start to make you think.

Are these things wrong? Not at all, they turn some mediocre pieces into much more desirable and marketable ones. That said, I prefer honesty in a piece. If something has been tarnished, flaked, knocked about, I want to know that as a collector. If ever a piece needs to be changed, that’s my decision and I’ll base that on its history and my opinions.

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