Perhaps the most accessible keepsakes that could be purchased in the mid to late 19th century were pieces of inexpensive jewellery of sentiment. More often made of non-precious stones and materials, such as alluminium, steel, jet and it substitutes bog oak and guttapercha, some of which were love tokens, some memorial pieces and some given in friendship. When enhanced with semi-precious materials like agate, ivory or coral, the jewellery became especially colourful and decorative.
Since sentiment and symbolism go hand in hand, each motif on this jewellery had a meaning. The cross stood for faith, the anchor for hope, the serpent for eternity and the tree for life. A variety of love and friendship motifs, such as the heart, clasped hands or the single outstretched hand, bows, love knot, pairs of doves, and cherubs carried messages. The language of flowers appeared on many pieces, ivy for friendship, the forget-me-not for remembrance. Some contained locks of hair, particularly those worn as memorial pieces and some personalised with a woman's name.
If I should from this world
Depart you'd have a bit of my
Heir my hand and heart if we
Could no more each other see
You could still remember me
Ann Elizabeth Brugh, January the 16 1853
The pins in the photo above are not family pieces, but pieces found over many years of searching for other's not so cherished treasures.