Ring (1)


The Victoria and Albert Museum

The Victoria and Albert Museum

This ring is inscribed with the initials of seven children aged from 16 to 2 who died within the space of a week, between the 16th and 23rd February 1801. There is no way of knowing what the children died of or what their family name was but it is likely that they perished in one of the nineteenth century outbreaks of infectious disease such as smallpox or cholera. Traditionally, white enamel was used for children and unmarried persons. Unusually, this ring is enamelled in black with a narrow white border.

From medieval times until the early twentieth century, it was customary to remember a deceased friend or relative by wearing a ring as a token. Wills from the sixteenth century onwards would often leave money to buy rings for mourners. Mass production of mourning rings began in the early nineteenth century. Rings were often kept in stock by jewellers and personalised through the addition of inscriptions on the inside of the hoop. However, this ring has clearly been made to order. The custom of giving and wearing mourning rings gradually declined in the early twentieth century.

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  • Title: Ring (1)
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: 1801
  • Location: London
  • Physical Dimensions: Diameter: 2 cm, Height: 0.80 cm
  • Provenance: Given by Peter Dwyer-Hickey
  • Medium: Enamelled gold

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