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Subject: Mourning jewellery

Mourning jewellery

From: David Harvey <top10denverdave>
Date: Friday, December 21, 2001
Len Hambleton <lhambleton [at] moh__dcr__state__nc__us> writes

>Our museum has several oval lockets containing human hair on the
>verso, miniatures portraits of the deceased painted in, I suspect,
>watercolours on ivory. Over time static electricity has lifted and
>attached paint fragments to the glass . There is no obvious seal to
>break to gain access to clean and stabilize. Has anyone the secret
>on how these were made and how they can be opened.

We had some interesting experiences with jewelry of this type when
doing a condition survey of jewelry in the Colonial Williamsburg
Collection a few years ago. What appeared to be a painted mourning
scene (identified in the registrarial records as "sepia on Ivory")
turned out to have been created from small clippings of hair.
Jennifer Zemanek, then an intern in the Metals and Arms lab, did
additional research on this type of jewelry and wrote a short piece
on it for the Collections and Conservation column in the Colonial
Williamsburg Interpreter (I'm sure that Jennifer can provide you
with the reference or even a Xerox of the article).

I'd recommend taking a close look at the piece under a good
low-power binocular microscope to ascertain whether it is true "hair
jewelry"or not.

PS: Just to let my colleagues know I went into private practice
after the demise of the Rocky Mountain Conservation Center at the
University of Denver on June 30, 2001

David Harvey
2930 South Birch Street
Denver, Colorado 80222

                  Conservation DistList Instance 15:46
                 Distributed: Friday, December 21, 2001
                       Message Id: cdl-15-46-003
Received on Friday, 21 December, 2001

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