Mourning Pins

We are excited to announce a new acquisition to the ICI Ephemera Kabinett: a matchbox-sized case of black-tipped mourning pins, made in Germany for the American and English markets sometime during the nineteenth or early twentieth century. This artifact is in fair condition, with slight damage to the structure of the box. It contains 37 of the original 40 pins.

As part of the cultural and personal customs practiced around the era this was made, these straight mourning pins were often worn in accompaniment with other jewelry, garments, and accessories associated with mourning rituals and etiquette. As Martha Pike notes in her 1980 article “In Memory Of: Artifacts Relating to Mourning in Nineteenth Century America”, black mourning pins were purposed ‘for fastening one’s mourning veil’, assuring that even the tiny details of one’s dress would reflect the somberness that black evokes during periods of deep mourning (309).

As evidence of fading cultural practices around death, these mourning pins are an historically significant addition to the ever-growing collections housed within the Institute of Cultural Inquiry.

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