Monday, April 8, 2013

VICTORIAN TRADITIONS OF MOURNING – MOURNING BROOCHES

By Ann Rabinowitz

 

Upon reading a posting on the JewishGen Digest by Michael Weigel regarding his great grandmother’s brooch which originated around 1870-1928 in the Roos Bakker family from Terschilling in the Netherlands, I decided to investigate its origins.  The brooch was further posted on the JewishGen View Mate Site and is seen above. 

Apparently, the brooch is a rare example of a mourning brooch which was found throughout Europe as early as the 16th Century, but which reached its height of popularity or fashion after the death of Britain’s Queen Victoria's husband Prince Albert in 1861 and lasted until she passed away in 1901 and into the Edwardian era.  It was during this time that formalized visual expressions of one’s remembrance of a loved one were found in jewelry and other wearable items for both men and women.

The brooches were made from various materials which were dependent on either the wealth or creativity of the purchaser as well as the materials at hand locally or that could be imported.  Very often jet was the material of choice or some form of black glass or enamel.  The variety of materials they were made from was astounding and can be found discussed on the following site:  http://cemeteryexplorers.blogspot.com/2010/01/victorian-mourning-traditions-fashions.html

In addition to the materials the brooches were made from, very often, they included a lock or braided piece of hair and, in many cases, a painting or tintype photo of the deceased was included in the brooch. The Star of David was not unusual as a decorative design on the brooch and could have been utilized by a Jewish mourner as well as a non-Jewish one.  The following site gives an indication of the enormous selection of designs available to Victorians for these types of brooches: 
http://www.morninggloryantiques.com/JewelChatVictJwl.html


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