Memento Mori (Latin for "Remember thy Death") p.3
Memorial objects with photographs

A Memorial Picture

On the left is an item that we treasure. It is a 24" X 25" shadow box that contains the carte-de-visite photograph of a young woman surrounded by a wreath of wool flowers on gold wire. It is our understanding that these flowers were made by wrapping fine gold wire on knitting needles to make frames for colored wool. Some areas have been sheared to create a pom pom effect.

We have seen memorial pictures made with human hair, wax, and feather flowers. We are glad that ours is made with wool. Most of the wax examples we have seen show the effects of melting and, even though we have hair mourning jewelry, the pictures made from it make us a bit uneasy.

We received this from Beverly's mother who was a collector or Victoriana. We went for a visit early in our collecting and found the guest room had been furnished with an antique brass bed and dresser. This picture was hanging over the bed. It took us years to convince her that it really belonged in our collection.

The back of the frame is covered with flowered wall paper and there is a hand written date from the 1880s,



A close up of some of the wool flowers.

A Photographic Funerary Urn

We found this 14 1/2" tall glass vase with an inset glass photograph of a young woman in an antique shop. The mouth of the vase is fitted with a metal insert about 5" deep. We suspected that it was a funeral urn meant to hold ashes. The maroon paint on the inside of the glass is scratched and it is possible to see that there is brown material inside. We were relieved to find when we removed the insert that it was filled with paper.

We later found two vases of identical style in the book The Painted Photograph by Heinz and Bridget Henisch. They carry the likenesses of an older couple and are described as funerary urns dating from the turn of the 20th century. Although our example might have once held the ashes of the lovely young woman pictured on it we suspect it may have been a sales sample that was never used.


Mourning Jewelry

We collect objects that have been embellished with photographs including several pieces of photographic jewelry. Although we know that these could be kept as a memento of a loved one, some of them could be objects of mourning. We have been told that the pin on the right is a mourning pin because of the black frame around the oval daguerreotype of a lovely, pensive young woman. The frame appears to be black enamel rather than jet since there are some chips on the edge that show metal under it. The daguerreotype is beautifully made with pink tinting on the face and gold accents on the knot shaped pin on her lace collar and her earrings.

The literature about Victorian mourning dress always mentioned objects made from the hair of the departed loved one. This is a concept that causes some modern people distress although the practice of keeping a lock of babies hair from the first haircut is not unknown today. We have several locket and cased images that include hair. The most elaborate example in our collection is the bracelet shown below. A band of stiff braided hair is held together by a gold locket with a small daguerreotype of a young woman under an engraved cover. We have an identical locket containing a daguerreotype of a young man that is mounted on a black velvet ribbon choker. We do not know if this is a morning piece or just a keepsake of a beloved sister or daughter.

The oval gold pin below holds a daguerreotype of a bearded young man on the front and in a glass covered opening in the back, hair that is in a woven pattern. We can not know if this is a memento or a memorial object.

Memento Mori p.1: Daguerreotype, Ambrotype, and Tintype
Memento Mori p.2: More Post Mortem and Memorial Photographs
Memento Mori p.3: Memorial Objects with Photographs * You are here
Memento Mori p.4: Absent Dear Ones

Related interests of the Victorian Era in our collection:
Spirit Photography - The photography of ghosts and spirits
Mesmerism - "Flint the Mesmerist"
Phrenology - The study of human personality from the shape of the head

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**NOTE** All items on the Collection of Collections web site are in our private collection and are NOT for sale. From time to time duplicate items from our collection will be offered for sale in the Do You Remember This? shop on the GoAntiques cyber mall. Visit the Do You Remember This? inventory page for photographica and toaster related collectibles.

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Updated on 9/2005