Judy Jay's

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Mourning Jewelry: CA094


TO THY CROSS I CLING ( Victorian Mourning Jewelry Cameo Brooch / Pin Pendant ): The subject of this touchingly sentimental hand carved shell Cameo is an “Allegory of Death”. (c. 1850-1880) A grieving woman is portrayed, head bowed with grief, with a cross in her hands as she prays for her departed loved one. The skull at her side is a timely reminder that death is always with us. The depicting of death and grief was a popular theme during the Victorian era. This design harkens back to the old hymn, “Simply to Thy Cross I Cling.” This Cameo carving is bezel set in a frame marked “14KT”, with a C clasp closure that includes an early safety lock and a swivel pendant bale. (Setting is probably c. 1900.) This is a rare, expression of a “Memento Mori”, the timely reminder that “we all must die”. I believe it is signed on the back with either the initials “PM” or “DM”. Mourning collectors covet this Cameo subject and they have become quite scarce. Condition: Very good. Frame is slightly irregular on the left side, probably made to fit the shell edge. There are some striations from a natural drying of the shell, but they are not visible to the naked eye – only in enlargements. Size: 1 ¾” high, 1 ¼” wide, approximately ¼” deep.

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