Thursday, July 31, 2014

Book Spotlight: In Death Lamented


"In Death Lamented: The Tradition of Anglo-American Mourning Jewelry" by Sarah Nehama is a lavishly illustrated collection of some of the finest examples of mourning jewelry gathered in one exhibition. The volume was the companion to an exhibit of mourning jewelry held at the Massachusetts Historical Society in 2012. The book and exhibit traces the history of mourning jewelry from 17th Century Memento Mori's and Poesy Rings to the sentimental hair jewelry that characterized the Victorian era. The highlight of the book is the information provided about the pieces and the people that they are commemorating. Because most of the items featured in the book come from the collection of the Massachusetts Historical Society the reader gets more information about the people than is usually offered in other books devoted to the collecting of mourning jewelry. The rest of the pieces featured in the exhibition come from Sarah Nehama a jewelry designer who became an avid collector of mourning jewelry after stumbling across a mourning brooch in an antique shop. The photographs are stunning, giving the reader an up close view of these beautiful pieces. What is striking to the reader, is that the majority of the pieces were commissioned to commemorate the death's of children and the young. A harsh reminder of the hazards of life for early Americans. This book belongs in the collection of anyone fascinated by mourning traditions and how they evolved from the stark and grim Memento Mori's to the sentimental Victorian era.

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