In Memory Of Mid Victorian Brooch

'In Memory Of' in Black Enamel, The New Direction

Before (and somewhat during) the heavy influence of the heavy Neo-Rococo designs that worked so well with memorial and sentimental symbolism in jewellery, the heavy, clean lines of the Empire Style (seen previously during the Neoclassical movement of the first quarter 19th century), had an influence on jewellery of the mid 19th century era, straightening out the embellished Neo-Gothic designs and producing something quite bold and powerful, such as this brooch.

With a simple insert of banded sardonyx and the clean lines giving way to break the brooch into quarters of ‘IN’, ‘MEM’, ‘ORY’, ‘OF’ trailing around its oval shape, the piece is on the verge of a movement that would see brooch styles grow very large. This piece, however is around 3.5cm in width, not very large and shows how the simplicity of mourning jewellery in stark symbolism was overtaking the gold embellishments of Neo-Gothic period and the opulent artistic allusions and scenarios of the Neoclassical era.

With such high mortality rates and a royal family that was imposing classic Christian family values upon the household, mourning was losing the surrounding pomp that had been popular fifty years earlier. Symbolism was sharp and bold (such as snakes, forget-me-nots and many other symbols still popular in funerary art today), with the construction of the pieces being large, bold and simple with a typical mourning statement on top or wrapped around a piece.

Don’t forget to head over and join the Art of Mourning Facebook Group if you want to have a chat with other collectors or see some more lovely items! Tomorrow, you might get to see something equally as lovely and then there’s Sunday… I wonder what symbolism will be on display then?

Further Brooches

A Sentimental Brooch For a Mother and Daughter, c.1860

Join Me with a Look at a 19th Century Sentimental Cameo Brooch of Artemis Featuring Hairwork

Spotlight On: Soul Brooch

Spotlight On: Snake Brooch

Spotlight On: 1788 Sarah Honlett Brooch

Dedication: To D.H.R from her affectionate mother.

Often a piece comes along that you feel in your heart is special and was kept untouched and loved for a reason. This brooch is one of those, not only for its pristine condition, but for the glorious sentiment between a mother and daughter.

This piece specifically states that it is a love token, an affectionate gift from the lady’s mother and we can take a lot in just from looking at it.


1860 Sentimental Brooch

Dedication and More Hair


It is a quite heavy piece and solid, with feathered tableworked hair with three pearls on milk glass on the front, with a simple twist of hair under glass on the reverse. We could assume that the mother’s hair is on top and the daughter’s underneath, but this is merely speculation without any absolute fact. One of the dangers of analysing a piece is becoming emotionally attached to it and making grand statements, when there is no basis for it. In the gold work, we can see subtle heart and clover motifs worked into the Rococo lines, yet nothing overpowers the large hair memento inside.

By the 1860s, brooches worn at the neck were becoming larger in fashion, so this piece is quite obvious and proud for its time. There’s no enamel of which to speak, so the gold design itself does the talking for it. Post 1861, the focus on sentimental jewels had grown far larger than it was even previously (if you’ve been reading this site, they had been quite popular with a large industry for the previous 250 years), however, post Albert’s death and Victoria’s adoption of perpetual mourning, combined with the introduction of the allowance of cheaper alloys in jewellery from 1854, the vales of sentiment focused upon the woman in the Victorian household was not only mandatory, but it was financially possible to buy the paraphernalia.

Late Victorian Hair Band

In the same vein as the surrounding hair bands, this piece is c1890 and carries a single pearl (tear).

Hair Reveal

Note the undulating gold design around the band revealing panels of hair underneath and the the way that they are tied together, leading towards the pearl on top. Simple and elegant, the late 19th century took great care with the fine details, regardless of being higher or lower end pieces.

Being widely prolific throughout the world, this band has its origins outside of Britain as it doesn’t carry the correct hallmarks, but these were widely produced along the Continent and especially in the United States.

Courtesy: Sarah Nehama

Further Reading on Hair Bands

The Late 19th Century and Buckle Rings

An 1876 Hair Ring

A Late 19th Century Hairwork Ring

1888 Sentimental Hair Band in Original Heart-Shaped Box

An Early Hair Ring: 1860 ‘My David’

Jewellery Historian and Creative / Art Director Hayden Peters on ABC Collectors

Tune in to ABC1 at 8pm to watch! If you miss it, it will be on ABC2 at 6:05pm or you can watch it online at the ABC’s iView!

After a months of living with that rather ordinary WordPress stock design, I’ve taken the liberty of integrating the Art of Mourning Blog to the full Art of Mourning site and the Twitter page as well! This new design brings across the spirit of what Art of Mourning is all about, with the random memorial ephemera elements and symbolism strewn around the page, giving that sense of a Victorian writing desk.

All the primary areas, such as the Memorial Card Mailing List and searching the blog have become a lot easier to find in the right hand navigation, so it’s not only prettier, but is a much better user experience.

So, come along and mourn the past with me in style as we take our daily journey along the path of memorial madness.

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