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Mourning brooch: M.16-2000

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Object information

Current Location: In storage


Maker: Unknown (Probably)




Gold, with black enamel decorated with gilding, containing hair under glass. Rectangular brooch, with a gold outer frame that has round corners and raised cusped and scalloped edges, with, in the centre, a rectangular compartment containing inter-woven blonde hair under glass, mounted in a plain gold rub-over setting, surrounded by a foliated gold frame. Between the outer and inner frames, the flat area of the brooch is enamelled onto a copper alloy plate in a translucent dark blue enamel that optically appears opaque black, and bears a gilt flower head at one end, the gothic initials MD at the opposite end, and, on the two long sides, the gothic initials RD, DI? and J?N?, MT? respectively. The gold back-plate is engraved 'Matilda/Obit 17th Feby/1842'. Brooch-pin fastening on the back: silver alloy or nickel-silver catch-plate and hinge-plate with a copper alloy (probably copper) pin. The lower quality of the fastening and excess solder around the hinge-plate suggest the pin is a replacement or later addition. The hinge plate partly covers an indentation in the gold back-plate that may relate to an earlier fitting.


History note: The brooch belonged to Matilda Barnes (1829-1914), née Armstrong, who was born and brought up in Ireland but lived in England after her marriage to the donor's late husband's grandfather. The inscription does not refer to a member of the family.

Legal notes

Given by Mrs Stella Barnes

Measurements and weight

Length: 3.2 cm
Width: 2.6 cm

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Given (2000-11-20) by Barnes, Stella F., Mrs


19th Century, Mid#
Production date: circa AD 1842

Components of the work

Decoration composed of enamel ( black) gilt
Part composed of hair glass
Ring composed of gold

Inscription or legends present

Inscription present: Gothic lettering

  • Text: MD
  • Location: Flat area of brooch
  • Method of creation: In gold
  • Type: Initials

Inscription present: Gothic lettering

  • Text: 'RD, D' [?] and '[?]DM[?]
  • Location: On two long sides
  • Method of creation: In gold
  • Type: Initials
  • Text: Matilda/Obit 17th Feby/1842
  • Location: On back
  • Method of creation: Engraving
  • Type: Inscription

References and bibliographic entries

Related exhibitions

Identification numbers

Accession number: M.16-2000
Primary reference Number: 28453
Entry form number: 140
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Tuesday 25 February 2020 Last processed: Thursday 7 December 2023

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

Citation for print

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "Mourning brooch" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-04-15 16:21:27

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{{cite web|url= |title=Mourning brooch |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-04-15 16:21:27|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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