Monday, May 26, 2014

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: The Ward Memorial Slide, 1697

Memorial Slide
The VIctoria & Albert Museum

We have looked at other “slide” jewels before, both memorial and otherwise. As part of our continuing look at ghoulish jewels, let’s study this gold slide from 1697. A skull on a winged hour-glass and two cherubs on an enameled coffin inscribed MEM. MORI (remember death) surmount the initials EB on a background of hair. All of this is housed under rock crystal. The gold backing is engraved “obt 6 Feb 1697.”

Memorial jewels were widely worn from the Seventeenth to Nineteenth Centuries. Earlier examples showcased stark imagery such as skeletons and winged hourglasses. These rather grim symbols were meant to remind the wearer both of the deceased and the reality of their own mortality.

These symbolic elements were made in enameled gold and could be assembled on any configuration to order. Initials such as the “E.B.” here were made in gold wire and could be added to a piece of jewelry.

Such slides were fitted with two flat loops at the back so that a ribbon of silk or woven hair would be threaded through--enabling it to be worn around the neck or wrist.

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