Children's Death Songs

Georgian: English mourning ring for Clement Collins made of gold & hair, dated 1789

You are a shadow by day, And a light in the night; You live in my lament, And do not die in my heart. (Friedrich Rückert, Kindertotenlieder) In the centuries behind us, infant mortality was far higher than it is today - at least in Europe and the Western world. The Dictionary of the Middle Ages states that more than half of the children in that era did not live to the age of 14. In the early modern period, infant mortality then slowly began to decline; the situation only improved significantly with industrialisation in the 19th century. In the case of the present English mourning ring, an inscription reveals the name and dates of life of a child who lives on in memory even after almost 230 years. For the inscription on the underside of the ring head reveals "Clement Collins/ Ob[iit] 11 Feb.r 1789 Aet[atis suae] 4 y[ea].rs". It is thus a memorial ring for Clement Collins, who died on 11 February of the year 1789 at the age of 4. The jewel is made of solid gold and features a braid of hair under a cut crystal. Enclosed under the cover glass, a small strand of hair is also added to the hair background. This is hair of the deceased child. The ring shows itself in typical form of the Georgian age, because it is an English ring. Worthy of collecting, the ring from the year of the French Revolution gives an intimate and immediate impression of an epoch in which the memory of the dead was also kept alive in jewellery - and it holds on to the memory of a child who was not allowed to live to see the spring of 1789.

In past centuries, death was still omnipresent. Life expectancy was low and the confrontation with death was as present as it was unavoidable. Jewellery had a deep symbolic meaning in this context. Its special role in the area of death, mourning and commemoration can be traced back to the earliest times. A multitude of rules and norms of behaviour were intended to alleviate the grief of the bereaved and to satisfy society's ideas of decency. According to the degree of kinship, mourning times were meticulously determined during which special clothing was to be worn. The mourning clothes also included specially made jewellery whose forms and symbolic contents changed over the centuries.

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We want you to be 100% satisfied! That’s why we examine, describe and photograph all our jewellery with the utmost care.

If for any reason you are still not satisfied, contact us and we will find a mutual solution immediately. Regardless, you can return any item within 30 days and we will refund you the full purchase price.

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