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2004/141/1 Mourning pendant and case, gold / hairwork / seed pearls / paper / silk / metal, made by John Wilkinson Jeweller & Silversmith, Leeds, England, 1826. Click to enlarge.

Mourning pedant and case

As an example of mourning jewellery, this 1826 locket, containing a lock of hair, reflects the ethos of romanticism and sentimentality which pervaded early nineteenth-century Britain. Sometimes seen as macabre and mawkish, the preservation of the deceased relative's hair reflects a different sensibility from the modern sanitised view of death. According to Lou Taylor, mourning jewellery in the nineteenth century had three purposes: to be a 'souvenir', a reminder of mortality or memento mori and to be a 'status symbol'. Mourning jewellery became a major industry by the mid-nineteenth century in England, inspired by Queen Victoria's overt and sustained period of mourning for Prince Albert, who died in 1861.

Mourning jewellery itself was no new thing. For instance, the execution of Charles I on 30 January 1649, and the flight of his son to the safety of continental Europe, later to become Charles II, had encouraged a widespread proliferation of royalist mementoes, mourning jewels. The death in childbirth of the popular Princess Charlotte, daughter of George IV, in 1817, provoked widespread mourning and a similar popular movement of mourning paraphenalia.

This piece is finely worked and probably includes the hair of the sisters it commemorates. The youth of these girls contributes to the sadness of the occasion. Later in the century this was less likely as mourning lockets were often mass-produced. Hair was used in jewellery particularly between 1790 and 1840 both in love tokens and mourning jewellery. Love tokens were generally more elaborate than mourning jewels, although distinctions between the two were often vague. Seed pearls, stones, jet, gold and black and white enamel were characteristic of these. Hair continued to be used in jewellery throughout the century. Holford and Young's Jewellers Book of Patterns of Hair Work (1864), illustrates this widespread use. The production and use of mourning jewellery declined around the end of the First World War.


Object No.


Object Statement

Mourning pendant and case, gold / hairwork / seed pearls / paper / silk / metal, made by John Wilkinson Jeweller & Silversmith, Leeds, England, 1826

Physical Description

Mourning pendant and case, gold / hairwork / seed pearls / paper / silk / metal, made by John Wilkinson Jeweller & Silversmith, Leeds, England, 1826

Mourning pendant, which has a gold case enclosing an ornamental motif executed in curled hair-work with seed pearls and gold wire on a blue background. Its frame is cast and roses decorate the handle. The pendant loop and border with flowers and leaves is in chased gold relief. The reverse is decorated with engine turning and, in the centre, an oval panel is bordered with chased gold flowers and leaves with the inscription: 'Harriet Bower was born July 8th 1809 died March 15th 1826, Caroline Sophia Bower was born June 23rd 1812 died Jan 9th 1826'. On the red oval case there is a label on the base with the name of the jeweller and silversmith.


The pendant is inscribed on the back 'Harriet Bower/ was born July 8th 1809 / died March 15th 1826/ Caroline Sophia Bower/ was born June 23rd 1812/ died Jan 9th 1826.'
The case has a rectangular paper label on the base, printed in black with ' JOHN WILKINSON/ Jeweller & / Silver Smith,/ LEEDS./ Watches Made/ Cleaned and/ Repair'd / MOURNING RINGS/ expeditioully [sic] made.'



The mourning pendant and case were made by John Wilkinson in Leeds, England in 1826.



This piece formed part of the donor Anne Schofield's personal collection.


Credit Line

Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program by Anne Schofield AM, 2004

Acquisition Date

15 October 2004

Cite this Object


Mourning pedant and case 2021, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 16 April 2021, <https://ma.as/345494>


{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/345494 |title=Mourning pedant and case |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=16 April 2021 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}