Ring thumbnail 1
Ring thumbnail 2
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images
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Jewellery, Rooms 91, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery

Ring

1801 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

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.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Enamelled gold
Brief Description
Gold and enamel mourning ring commemorating the deaths of seven children, England, 1801.
Physical Description
Gold band enamelled in black with narrow white enamel border at top and bottom. The outside of the hoop is inscribed in reserve on the black enamel: MB Agd 16 SB Agd 12 WB Agd 10 EB Agd 9 TB Agd 7 RB Agd 5 CB Agd 2. The inside of the hoop is engraved with an inscription in italics: Died from the 16th to the 23rd Feby. 1801.
Dimensions
  • Diameter: 2cm
  • Height: 0.80cm
Marks and Inscriptions
Marked with duty mark, lion passant, date letter F for 1801-1802. Maker's mark illegible, possibly DM with a pellet.
Credit line
Given by Peter Dwyer-Hickey
Object history
This ring was donated to the V&A by Peter Dwyer-Hickey, the owner of a jewellery shop in London. It was brought in by a member of the public who said that it was a family piece but left no details.
Summary
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.
Collection
Accession Number
M.18-2004

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record createdDecember 15, 2004
Record URL