Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Alive after Death

Accession #:  2002.0002
Item: Mourning Ring
Brett Randolph, son of Richard Randolph of Curles and cousin to William III,  may have made a request for a mourning or memorial ring to be made upon his death, bequeathing money for this very purpose. It may have also been possible that the family had a desire to have a piece of him with them, to keep him alive after his death. Brett Randolph had four children- Richard, Henry, Brett and Susanna. Any of which could have been the wearer of this ring.
The mourning ring is black enamel and inscribed on the enamel in gold is the name of the deceased, “Brett Randolph” and the date of his death “ 4 September 1759”. The ring is set with nineteen diamonds in a circle surrounding a piece of hair under glass.
Mourning rings date back to William Shakespeare (1564-1616), who mentioned them in his will. He states:
“I gyve and bequeath to [Mr. Richard Tyler thelder] Hamlett Sadler xxvj.8. viij.d. to buy him a ringe; to William Raynoldes gent., xxvj.8. viij.d. to buy him a ringe; to my dogson William Walker xx8. in gold; to Anthonye Nashe gent. xxvj.8. viij.d. [in gold]; and to my fellowes John Hemynges, Richard Brubage, and Henry Cundell, xxvj.8. viij.d. a peece to buy them rnges”
The wealthy in the 17th and 18th centuries could afford mourning rings. In their wills they would specifically write out how they were to be designed and made. The fact that there was a ring made in memory of Brett Randolph at his death showed that the family had the money to have a ring produced just for them in the way requested.  The popularity of mourning jewelry accelerated when Queen Victoria had one made after Prince Albert’s death in 1861. “Commemorative jewellery” was also mass produced with images of royalty to remember a monarch such as for Charles I who was executed in 1649 (; see image 1).
In the I8th century, if the details of the person were put on the stem of the ring in white enamel then that meant the person was single. If they were put in black enamel then the deceased was married.   Family members liked to included hair from the deceased for its close connection to its previous owner and it was a “symbol for life” (  An excerpt from Godey’s Lady Book (c. 1850), a magazine popular in the United States, declares:
"Hair is at once the most delicate and last of our materials and survives us like
love. It is so light, so gentle, so escaping from the idea of death, that, with a
lock of hair belonging to a child or friend we may almost look up to heaven
and compare notes with angelic nature, may almost say, I have a piece of thee
here, not unworthy of thy being now" (qtd. in Harran)
These types of jewelry, like the mourning ring, kept the life of a loved one in the wearer’s memory. It was a way of physically having a part of the person with them by having hair incorporated into the mourning jewelry. Mourning jewelry is also known as memorial jewelry because of its ability to be a permanent memorial of a person’s life. Memorial rings are still sold today (see image 2).
However, these modern mourning rings are not as personal as the rings of Brett Randolph’s day, when the pieces were fashioned specifically with the intention of physically having a part of the deceased with the wearer. It takes being alive after death to a whole different level.
Image 2 "Sterling Silver Memorial Message Ring (25 Characters)":
Works Cited
Harran, Susan and Jim. “Remembering a Loved one with Mourning Jewelry” .  Antique Week. December 1997. 25 October 2011.
Peters, Hayden. The Art of Mourning. “An Overview of the History and Industry of Hairwork”. 25 October 2011.
Victoria’s Past . “Mourning Rings”. 25 October 2011.
 “The Last will and Testament of William Shakespere”.  25 October 2011.
Things Gone By Museum. “Mourning Jewelry Museum” .  25 October 2011.
The British Museum. “Memorial Ring Commemorating Charles  I”. 25 October 2011.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Feeding the Baby

Accession #: 1998.11
Item: Pap Boat/Invalid Feeder

Today, when a baby needs feeding a plastic battle and rubber nipple are utilized. The simplicity of this design is both spell-proof and unbreakable. The modern day bottle did not exist in the late 19th century and early 20th century when a pap boat or “invalid feeder” was implemented in the task of feeding a baby. The Wilton House Collection includes a delicate porcelain, German (Meissen) pap boat with a cobalt “blue onion” design. The design itself has no reference to an onion; rather the decorative elements remotely resemble an onion with blue outlines and fleur de lis decoration.
            Gifted to the museum in 1998 from Mrs. Brantley Knowles, the pap feeder, c 1850’s, is on display in the children’s bedchamber. The name “pap” is allegedly from the sound babies make when opening their mouth to receive food. However, the more likely reason for the name ‘pap’ is for the food mixture called pap; "pap" is Dutch or Flemish for "porridge" or "gruel". Pap recipes consist of bread, flour, and water. A pap base “panada” is a more nourishing mixture with added butter and milk, or cooked in broth as a milk substitute. Ingredients may also include raw meat juices, wine, beer, Lisbon sugar, and Castile soap. Occasionally to sooth a baby drugs were added. Kept warm pap could be used for multiple daily feedings. For this an open flamed device was kept under the pap holder.
As for the remainder of the name, “boat” derives from the shape of the porcelain feeder. Pap feeders can be found in many different styles. Some feeders may resemble an animal such as a duck, or a teacup with an exaggerated spout. Materials used for the making of a pap feeder were pewter, wood, bone, pottery, porcelain and in some rare cases glass. Most pap boats are mistaken for the liking of a gravy saucer, with their wide mouths, long spouts and finger with thumb inlay handle. The Wilton House pap feeder is 2in. in height, 7in in width and 2 ¼in deep, and most resembles a gravy saucer.
Pap boats, more often then not, were produced out of the country and brought in. No direct connection can be made of the pap boat or “invalid feeder” to either the Randolph family or the Randolphs of Wilton.  

Oakes, J. The Web Child Museum, "Pap Boats and Invalid Feeders." Accessed September 28, 2011.

Rubell, Martha. Rubell’s Antiques, "My antique “Blue Onion” invalid feeder/pap boat – 19th." Last modified Sept. 12, 2008. Accessed September 28, 2011.

Mead Johnson Nutritional Division, "The History of the Feeding Bottle: Pap Feeders & Feeding Cups."Accessed September 28, 2011.