A Lock Of Hair.

I am lucky enough to have in my personal library a book entitled ‘The Mourner’s Friend or Sighs of Sympathy For Those Who Sorrow’. It is a collection of prose and verse compiled to give comfort to the grieving. Edited by J.B. Syme, published in 1852 by S.A. Howland in Worcester, Mass, USA; its contents are by American and European authors and some surprising famous names. My copy of the book has some water damage, ageing paper, and precarious binding, so before it deteriorates my project to preserve the words of the authors will find its way here on the MOLAM blog. 

When I started this humble blog in April of 2012 my first post was this poem because it encapsulated my interest in collecting literally in terms of objects, but also the sentiment and history that makes my personal collection so satisfying. I am transcribing this piece again, as I am following the sequence of the poems within the publication. Now I have a few more interesting things to note. Firstly, the author remains anonymous but the piece was published many times, so I do wonder if it is in fact older than when it first seems to appear in 1829. What this does reveal is the significance of the symbolism, the lock of hair as a potent memorial is obvious when you see how far reaching this poem was – even appearing in colonial New Zealand! It does not lose its potency for me now in the 21st Century. The power of a lock of hair to evoke memory, curiosity, empathy, emotion, loss – no wonder it was such a popular material in jewellery, art and religious mementos. The voice of the author rings sincere with personal experience; an authentic voice which carries through the centuries.

The piece appears in The New York Mirror, and Ladies’ Literary Gazette in 1829 (p. 312, Volume VI). In 1830 it was published numerous times. It was titled ‘Keepsakes’ in the publication New York Amulet and Ladies’ Chronicle (June 15, p. 86) which was edited by Theophilus Fisk and in The Schenertady Cabinet (April 21). However, in the same year it was published as ‘A Lock of Hair’ in The Monthly Traveller or Spirit of the Periodical Press (Boston, January 1830 on page 119). Later in 1834 it appears in the Philadelphia Scrap Book and Gallery of Comicalities edited by John C Barger. Again it appears as ‘A Lock of Hair’ in the Geneva Gazette published in New York also in 1834. Much later on the 25th September 1886 it appears in the New Zealand newspaper The Waikato Times entitled ‘Keepsakes’.

A Lock Of Hair.

FEW things in this weary world are so delightful as keepsakes. Nor do they ever, to my heart at least, nor to my eye, lose their tender, their powerful charm ! How slight, how small, how tiny a memorial saves a beloved one from oblivion ! Worn on the finger, or close to the heart, especially if they be dead. No thought is so insupportable as entire, total, blank forgetfulness, — when the creature that once laughed and sung and wept with us, close to our side, in our arms, is as if her smiles, her voice, her tears, her kisses, had never been. She and they all swallowed up in the nothingness of the dust.
Of all keepsakes, memorials, relics,– most dearly, most devotedly, do I love a little lock of hair ; and oh, when the head it beautified has long mouldered in the dust, how spiritual seems the undying glossiness of the sad memento ! all else gone to nothing, save and except that soft, smooth, burnished, and glorious fragment of the apparelling that once hung in clouds and sunshine over an angel’s brow.
Ay, a lock of hair is far better than any picture, — it is part of the beloved object herself; it belongs to the tresses that often, long ago, may have been dishevelled, like a shower of sunbeams, over your beating breast. But now, solemn thoughts sadden the beauty once so bright, so refulgent, the longer you gaze on it; the more and more it seems to say, almost upbraidingly, ” Weep’st thou no more for me ? ” and, indeed, a tear, true to the imperishable affections in which all nature seemed to rejoice, bears witness, that the object to which we yearned, is no more forgotten, now that she has been dead for so many long, weary days, months, years, than she was forgotten during an hour of absence, that came like a passing cloud between us and the sunshine of our living in her loving smiles.

An Exquisite Palette: A Dedication to Two

Here is a re-posting of a short piece I wrote for the fabulous site Art of Mourning. This brooch is truly a work of art in gold, black enamel and hairwork; it is dedicated to two women from the same family. It is another piece from my personal MOLAM collection of mourning jewellery.  Enjoy!

Click here to read the post For An Exquisite Palette: A Dedication to Two.

A mid-Victorian mourning brooch with hairwork dedicated to Agnes & Sarah Robinson

A mid-Victorian mourning brooch with hairwork dedicated to Agnes & Sarah Robinson

Memento Mori in Jewellery: Anachronistic 1780s White Enamel Ring

Here is a re-posting of an indepth analysis of a spectacular and unique ring circa 1780 which Hayden Peters wrote for his fabulous site Art of Mourning. This ring, dedicated to Ann Staneway, is from my personal collection of mourning jewellery.  Enjoy!

Click here to read the post Memento Mori in Jewellery: Anachronistic 1780s White Enamel Ring Where Memento Mori Meets Neo-Classicism.

Anne Staneway 1780 OB 18 Mar 1780 AE 20

Ann Staneway OB 18 Mar 1780 AE 20

How Society Entered Mourning: c. 1680 – 1700 Memento Mori Mourning Ring

Here is a re-posting of a terrific analysis of an early memento mori ring Hayden Peters wrote for his reference site Art of Mourning. This exquisite ring is from my own personal collection of mourning jewellery, and is a true delight to have.  Enjoy!

Click here to read How Society Entered Mourning.

A Memento Mori Mourning Ring c. 1680

A Memento Mori Mourning Ring c. 1680

For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow: A portrait miniature

Here is a re-posting of a short piece I wrote for the fabulous site Art of Mourning. This portrait miniature of a very pink cheeked gent is from the MOLAM collection of yours truly. I’ve always felt kindly toward him, he seems so happy, and is a fitting face to wish all readers a  Happy New Year to all! Enjoy!

Click here to read the post For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow

A portrait miniature of a gentleman with hair verso, C. 1780 – 1810?

Six Degrees of Thorvaldsen: The Figure of Night

Here is a re-posting of a piece I wrote for the fabulous site Art of Mourning. This brooch, Nyx, is from the MOLAM collection of yours truly. Although a humble piece, as you will read it is rich in its social & art historical context, and jewellery tradition. Happy reading!

Click here to read the post Six Degrees of Thorvaldsen: The Figure of Night

Nyx (Night) with her two children Sleep and Death, in Vulcanite

For Theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven

Here is a re-posting of a short piece I wrote for the fabulous site Art of Mourning. This brooch is from the MOLAM collection of yours truly.  Enjoy!

Click here to read the post For Theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.

In Memory of My Dear Child