Mourning Jewelry

Memorial ring in gold and black enamel, the bezel containing a microphotograph, reversed, of the Prince Consort in 1861, which is attributed to J.J.E. Mayall. 

Queen Victoria lost the love of her life, Prince Albert, to typhoid fever after 21 years of wedded bliss. This tragic loss plunged her majesty into a deep state of mourning for the remainder of her life- almost forty years. To satiate her broken heart, Queen Victoria wore black garments, black jewelry, and black hair accessories. As an example, the above ring was commissioned in honor of her beloved. Along the side of the ring the initials ‘V’ and ‘A’ are linked in white enamel.

And as Queen Victoria set the example for her court, mourning clothing and jewelry became the pinnacle of fashion. Materials such as jet, onyx, pearl, dark tortoise shell, black enamel, and vulcanite became vastly popular, as they could emulate the color well.

A pearl and black chalcedony Victorian mourning pin with a floral motif reflects a gentler view of death. Thirty-six natural pearls surround the pin and seed pearls adorn the flower petals and leaves. Photo: Robert Weldon/GIA. Courtesy: KCB Natural Pearls

By today’s standards, mourning jewelry might seem morbid. But in Victorian times, death was abundant. Middle class men might live, on average, to 45. The average lives of workmen and labourers spanned just half that time. Children’s fate was even worse. One in three died before the age of five.

Mourning jewelry brought solace to the survivors who had to cope with frequent losses. In the end, perhaps mourning jewelry can be thought of more as an expression of love than of grief. Its purpose was to keep a departed beloved near to the heart. And that is a sentiment that transcends culture and time. 

Mourning brooches. Photo: Detlef Thomas. Hair jewelry pendant. Photo: Missouri History Museum.


Graff, Michelle. “The History Behind … Victorian mourning jewelry” National Jeweler, 3 Nov. 2014,

Picard, Liza. “Health and Hygiene in the 19th Century” British Library, 14 Oct. 2009,

Steele, Meredith. “Victorian Mourning Jewelry: Morbid, Macabre, and Magnificent” Interwave, 31 Oct. 2018,

“Antique Jewelry: Mourning Jewelry of the Victorian Era” GIA.

“Victoria’s Photographic Mourning Ring for Albert, 1861” Art of Mourning.

Clara Driscoll, the Light Behind Tiffany

Clara Driscoll, the Light Behind Tiffany

Clara Driscoll
Clara Driscoll in a workroom with Joseph Briggs, another Tiffany employee, in 1901.

What makes Tiffany lamps so iconic? Is it the name “Tiffany” that evokes greatness? Or is it the precise craftsmanship and delicate intricacies of the design? 

To quote the Bard,
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.” 

Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2).

For decades Louis Comfort Tiffany was attributed as the creator of the ever famous lamps. And his last name, Tiffany, became synonymous with elegance and beauty. The lamps were seminal and what all designers strived to render. Today, a Tiffany lamp can be worth anywhere from $4,000 to over $1 million. The most ever paid for an original was $2.8 million in 1997 at a Christie’s auction.

However, thanks to the diligent research of Martin Eidelberg, Professor Emeritus of Art History at Rutgers University, Independent Scholar Nina Gray, and the Historical Society’s Curator of Decorative Arts, Margaret K. Hofer, light was shone on Tiffany’s legacy and a falsity uncovered.

The true designer of the innovative lamps was a woman, Clara Driscoll. This revelation was never mentioned in the Tiffany Studios publicity, because Tiffany never disclosed the names of his designers, preferring to keep the public focus on his own considerable artistic and business talents. Also, the records of the studio were lost after the company closed in the early 1930s.

Dragonfly Tiffany Lamp designed by Clara Driscoll.

Clara worked at Tiffany Studios off and on for more than 20 years. Engaged or married women were not allowed to work at the company, so Driscoll had to leave because of her marriage in 1889. After Driscoll’s first husband Francis Driscoll died in 1892, she resumed working for Tiffany Studios and remained until her marriage to Edward A. Booth in 1909.

Wisteria Tiffany Lamp designed by Clara Driscoll.

Clara is now accredited to designing over 30 lamps and numerous other desk and boudoir accoutrements. Driscoll designed many of the most iconic Tiffany leaded-glass lamps from Dragonfly, Cobweb, and Butterfly to Wisteria, Poppy, Laburnum, Arrowhead, Geranium, and the innovative Flying Fish shade and Deep Sea mosaic and glass-jeweled base. Most researchers now believe it was Clara who originated the entire concept of kerosene- and then electric-powered lamps of leaded glass for Tiffany.

apple blossom
Apple Blossom Lamp designed by Clara Driscoll.

Thanks to those historians, credit is now given where credit is due. Clara Driscoll life’s work is finally attributed to her.


CNBC. (2019). How To Spot An Authentic Tiffany Lamp. [online] Available at: [Accessed 23 Jul. 2019].

Terrebonne, J. (2019). Food and Design Come Together at the 2017 Edible Schoolyard NYC Benefit – Galerie. [online] Galerie. Available at: [Accessed 23 Jul. 2019]. (2019). Breaking Tiffany’s Glass Ceiling: Clara Wolcott Driscoll (1861-1944) | Cleveland Institute of Art. [online] Available at: [Accessed 23 Jul. 2019].

Kastner, J. (2019). Clara Driscoll – Tiffany Lamps – New-York Historical Society. [online] Available at: [Accessed 23 Jul. 2019].


July 22 is National Hammock Day!


Known as the Cradle of the Gods, hammocks have been in use for over 1,000 years. The first hammock is believed to have been made by the Caribbean Taino people. These suspended beds proved useful at offering protection against poisonous or dangerous pests, as well as keeping the person elevated off the dirty ground. The Taino people would also place hot coals or kindle small fires under their hammocks to stay warm as they slumbered. 

Hammocks were originally made from the woven bark of the Hamack Tree. As such, they were first called hamacas, by the Taino people. Eventually the word hamaca  was overheard by a famed explorer, and it morphed into the current word hammock. After viewing these woven sleeping apparatuses, European explorers brought several examples back to Spain. This sparked a craze. And hammocks grew in popularity all over Europe. By the turn of the century, hammocks had also became an item of leisure for wealthy families in the United States.

The sentiment of leisure remains true today. Nothing quite says summer like a quiet reverie in a hammock strung from two tall oak trees. 

We do hope you get to celebrate National Hammock Day. If not, please feel free to immerse yourself in the captured beauty of the fortunate ones below.

Le hamac en Couleur by Michel Garnier


A Golden Day Dream
A Golden Day Dream by Emily Mary Osborn
Betrothed by Joseph Frederic Charles Soulacroix


The Hammock by Gustave Courbet
red hammock
The Red Hammock by William Henry Margetson


Source Staff. “Hammocks’ Rocking History.”, A&E Television Networks, 20 June 2011,

How to Keep a Dream Journal

Dreams by Samuel Melton Fisher

How to keep a Dream Journal

Begin before bed.

It is important to write about your day before you fall asleep.

Ask yourself key questions: Who did you see? What did you do? Did you have any major events? What was the most emotionally charged event of the day? The answers to these questions could give you insight into your more ambiguous dreams.

Keep your journal close.

Keep a journal by your bedside to record your dreams. It is essential to write down your dreams the moment you wake up. Not doing so could cause your mind to scramble key elements, or you could forget important details all together! Also, make sure to note how you felt upon waking up. Your emotions are insightful when you reflect back on what you dream is telling you.

Record your dreams every day!

Begin to record your dreams daily. Doing so will help you see emerging patterns, recurring themes, emotions, and specific people. Anything you notice within your dream is your subconscious speaking out to you. Dream Journals help you to decipher which aspects in your life need attention.

Why would you keep a Dream Journal?

Journaling your dreams has many positive benefits on your health.

Stop your nightmares!

If you suffer from nightmares, recording your dreams can help you notice patterns within your dreams. You will then be able to confront whatever real-life issue is causing you grief during your sleep.

Broaden your self awareness.

Dream journaling can be life-changing. It forces you into a daily habit of thoughtful observation, making you more aware of your surroundings as well as your deeper-self.

Improve your creativity.

Writing down your dreams lets you explore your creative side. Many iconic works were born from a dream! Examples include:

  1. The Beatles song “Yesterday”
  2. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein’s monster 
  3. Christopher Nolan’s movie “Inception” 
  4. Niels Bohr: The Structure of The Atom
  5. Albert Einstein: The Speed of Light

Start the introspective journey into your subconscious today with a Victorian Trading Company dream journal, and delve into your inner-self!


DreamsCloud. “12 Easy Steps for Keeping a Dream Journal and Getting Started Tonight.” HuffPost, HuffPost, 7 Dec. 2017,

“THE BEST WAY TO KEEP A DREAM JOURNAL.” Lucid Dream Society, 2 July 2019,

Victorian Tips for Lady Travelers

The Bayswater Omnibus (1895), oil painting by George William Joy

If, by my endeavours, I have in any ways assisted my sisters in their wanderings, or encouraged a single woman to join the path of travellers by land or sea, I shall feel I have achieved the object of my labours.

Thus concludes Lillias Campbell Davidson’s 1889 book entitled Hints to Lady Travellers at Home and Abroad, the very first British travel guide written for women by a woman.

While we have since swapped planes for trains, cars for carriages, and buses for boats, Davidson would be pleased to know that over a century later, many of her practical travel tips (and those of her peers) endure, at least in principle.


Too many sweets given during a journey produces acidity in the stomach, and thereby causes discomfort and fretfulness…

Hints for Travellers in the Summer by L.H. Yates, 1897

Nothing puts a damper on travel like an upset stomach. Guides of the day warned against consuming roughage such as raw fruits and vegetables and opting instead for mild, plain fare such as crackers and finger sandwiches. 


It is wise never to travel unprovided with a small flask of brandy and water.

Hints to Lady Travellers at Home and Abroad by Lillias Campbell Davidson, 1889.

Whether or not you opt for the brandy, water is essential! Packing a water bottle will undoubtedly help you stay hydrated throughout long days of walking, sunbathing, and sight-seeing. 


A traveling costume should be simple in style and quiet in color, materials that will not show dirt being preferable. A waterproof cloak is a very desirable addition, as it may be at any time suddenly needed.

Household Companion: Book of Etiquette by Alice A. Johnson, Mrs. Janet McKenzie      Hill & Dr. Henry Hart Shorne, 1909.

When packing for a trip, efficiency is key. Travel as light as possible, ideally bringing only what you can comfortably carry on your person and only that which is absolutely necessary. 

As Davidson suggests above, it is a good idea to pack clothing in neutral colors that won’t easily show stains, allowing you to get more wear out of every outfit. Additionally, neutrals are easily mixed and matched, enabling you to pack less. A Victorian lady’s traveling dress typically included a “mantle” or detachable over-garment to accommodate unexpected weather, fluctuations in temperature, and drafty indoor spaces. In similar fashion, it is a good idea to pack lightweight layers that can be easily donned and removed as need be. 

Davidson warns against bringing nice clothes that might be ruined in the course of travel. Comfortable, practical garments should be prioritized with the exception of one dressy outfit to suit special occasions. 

Lastly, it was customary for Victorian ladies to pack lightweight linen bags to keep dirty laundry and shoes away from clean clothes. 


Victorian travel guides advised packing basic first-aid kit supplies for dressing cuts and blisters as well as pain-relieving medications for aches & pains that could quickly spoil a day of travel. A travel-sized eau de toilette was encouraged as well for keeping fresh during long (and sometimes sweaty!) travel days. 

An Adventurous State of Mind

Travel with an open mind and a charitable eye…Do not start with the foregone conclusion that every country which does not invariable provide an eight o’clock breakfast of tea, toast and bacon is not fit for habitation.

Travelling by Elizabeth A.S. Dawes, 1900.

Traveling often means venturing into the unknown, trading the familiar sights and experiences of the day-to-day for the discovery of a brave new world. Keeping an open mind is essential to truly immersing oneself in the vibrance of exotic cultures and places. 

Bon voyage, fellow travelers!



“The Travelling Companions.” 1862 oil-on-canvas painting by British artist Augustus Leopold Egg.

Conger, Cristen. “How to Travel Like a Victorian Lady.” How Stuff Works: Stuff Mom Never Told You. <>.

Davidson, Lillias Campbell. Hints to Lady Travellers Abroad and at Home. London: Iliffe and Son 1889.

“A Moveable Feast”: How to Host A Victorian Picnic

“A table spread in the shade…everything as natural and simple as possible.”

—Jane Austen, Emma


Ahhhh summer…that exuberant succession of fair-weather months strung together with long days and balmy nights. The gardens are a riot of color, dappled in sunlight and abuzz with bees. The whole world is alive and abloom and bursting with potential—inspiring travel, adventure, socializing. What summer pastime better mingles such pleasures than a good, old-fashioned picnic?

A Brief History:

An inherently ritualistic people, the Victorians reveled in seasonally-inspired customs and traditions. The picnic was one such beloved Victorian tradition, but contrary to what Jane Austen may suggest, picnics were often far from simple. The working classes—bound to cramped urban living—necessarily resorted to informal potluck picnics in city parks. But for the leisure classes, hosting a picnic was an elaborate affair requiring a great deal of planning, organization, and effort, thus earning the nickname “a moveable feast.”

A Definition:

In an attempt to understand the role of the picnic in Victorian popular culture, let us first examine its definition within the context of the 19th century. The Oxford English Dictionary originally defined the word “picnic” as “a pleasure party including an excursion to some spot in the country where all partake of a repast out of doors.” And so we see, a picnic was far more than a mere meal enjoyed outdoors, but an expedition of sorts. Andrew Hubbell, author of How Wordsworth Invented Picnicking and Saved British Culture, takes this notion a step further, suggesting that for British Victorians, picnicking was an ideological pursuit that reinforced important social and nationalistic bonds:

To picnic is to consume not only particular food, but also a specific environment chosen according to an aesthetic standard, and a particular form of sharing food according to certain standards of behaviour. It means creating a moveable feast and overcoming difficulties and inconveniences…the reward is primarily ideological: it enables the participant to share a form of eating that creates relationships between small groups of people, natural landmarks, and cultural ideals. These relationships form a consciousness of national identity. Picnicking, especially for early nineteenth-century picnickers, was thus a way of performing Britishness.

How to Host A Victorian Picnic:

While al fresco dining was certainly more relaxed than a formal meal à table, it was still strictly governed by rules of social etiquette. Various household management manuals and etiquette guides of the day offered detailed instructions about what to wear, what to serve, which activities to plan, how to scout a perfect location, and how to properly set up and break down a site. 

What to Wear:

In terms of appropriate garb, one manual warned:

Be careful to dress for the entertainment after consulting the barometer and the thermometer and after learning the geography of the objective point of the day. A woolen dress that is not too heavy nor yet too new, or a cotton one that is not too thin; solid, easy shoes, that have a friendliness for the feet because of prolonged intimacy with them; pretty, but not too fine or thin stockings; a hat that has a broad brim; a large sun-shade or a sun-umbrella; at least two fresh handkerchiefs; a jacket to wear when returning home; and a rug or traveling-shawl to spread upon the ground at dinner time are among the requisites of personal comfort and prettiness.

What to Bring:

Lawn chairs, blankets and hammocks were often employed to soften the scene and promote relaxation. For more formal picnics, however, it was not unheard of for the dining room table and chairs to be packed on a wagon and transported for the occasion! In any case, tableware ranging from wood to tin to china were packed along with silverware into wicker hampers.

One 19th c. manual stated, “For the feast, forget not the napkins, forks, spoons and the luncheon-cloth. Also carry tumblers, plates, salt, pepper, sugar and a bottle of cream or can of condensed milk. Cups with handles, but no saucers, are desirable for tea and coffee.”

What to Serve:

Mrs. M.W. Ellsworth’s Queen of the Household from 1900 makes numerous recommendations for planning a picnic spread. The ideal picnic fare, she says, should be easy to handle and “bear traveling without looking dejected and sullen.” She goes on to say that “the best and most convenient of all out-of-door edibles, is the sandwich.” Both sweet and savory sandwiches were popular, ranging in filling from meat spreads made of minced ham, beef and chicken mixed with mayonnaise to sweet fillings of butter, marmalades, and preserves. Pickled vegetables and preserved fruits were served on the side along with crackers, cheese, and canned sardines.

For dessert, pound cake, sponge cake, and fruit cake were popular as well as fresh and candied fruits.

Refreshments mainly consisted of iced tea and lemonade. According to Mrs. Ellsworth, “One really requires no wine at an al-fresco feast, even if accustomed to use it at a home dinner. The exhilaration of the air is quite sufficient for the needs of digestion. If wine must be carried, claret is best, because it is never served with ice, the most fastidious of wine-tasters insisting that its flavor is injured if it is not drunk while of the same temperature as the atmosphere.” We may be inclined to disagree with her on this point 🙂

Additionally, she offers two detailed seasonal menus for spring and summer from which to pick and choose:

Bill of fare for a spring picnic: Cold Roast Chicken. Sandwiches of Potted Rabbit. Bewitched Veal. Small Rolls with Salad Filling. Cold Baked Ham. Egg Salad. Buttered Rolls. Hard Boiled Eggs. Crackers. Chow Chow. Bombay Toast. Pickles. Orange Marmalade. Quince Jelly. Sugared Strawberries. White Cake. Almond Cake. Coconut Jumbles. Lemonade. Tea Cakes. Raspberry Vinegar. Bill of fare for a summer picnic: Cold Boiled Chicken. Tongue Sandwiches. Spiced Beef. Sardines. Jellied Chicken. Pickled Salmon. Spanish Pickles. Sweet Peach Pickles. Boston Brown Bread. Beans. Fresh Fruits. Imperial Cake. Neapolitan Cake. Small Fancy Cakes.

A Couple Authentic Victorian Picnic Recipes:

Chicken Salad Sandwiches (Adapted from “Anna Maria’s Housekeeper,” by Mrs. S.D. Power, 1884)

1 pound cold cooked chicken (about 2 boneless breasts)

6 tablespoons chopped parsley

1/4 cup mayonnaise

Salt, pepper

8 slices homemade bread

Chop chicken very fine, or mince. Place chicken in bowl and mix in parsley and just enough mayonnaise to moisten mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Slice bread very thin. Make sandwiches, wrap each in plastic wrap, then in paper napkin and tie with ribbon. Makes 4 sandwiches.

Victorian Gingerbread (From The Old Farmer’s Almanac, est. 1792)

1 cup sugar

1 cup melted butter

1 cup sour cream

1 cup dark molasses

2 cups flour

2 eggs

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons ginger

1/2 teaspoon allspice

pinch of cinnamon and of mace

Beat the eggs well and add to them the sour cream, molasses and sugar. Stir in the flour sifted with the soda and spices. Add the melted butter and beat well. Fill a cake pan ¾ full and bake the gingerbread in a moderate (325 degrees F) oven for about 35 minutes, or until done. Serve hot as a bread for tea with butter, or hot with whipped cream as a dessert which is particularly popular with children, or serve cold as a cake.

What to Do:

An 1891 etiquette manual instructs that pre-determined activities follow the picnic to include group singing and music-making, storytelling, games, sports, and walks. A courting couple might even pair off and speak privately, but chaperones were enlisted to ensure that nothing unseemly transpired.

An Enduring Tradition:

The summer picnic is a tradition we still hold dear. And while there are far fewer rules and regulations governing our picnic ventures now-a-days, the unique satisfaction of packing up a wicker basket, grabbing an old quilt, and posting up under a shade tree on a sunny afternoon with pleasant company has remained the same. Wishing you many blissful moments spent dining al-fresco this season!



“Emma: Picnicking on Box Hill.” Jane Austen’s World. Mar 2008. <>.

Treese, Lorett. “A Very Civilized Affair : Picnics: When Victorians ate outdoors, they brought their dining rooms with them.” 18 July 1991. <>.

“Picnic Ideas: How to Have a Victorian Style Picnic.” Victoriana Magazine.

“Picnics.” Food Timeline. <>.

“Victorian Gingerbread.” The Old Farmer’s Almanac. <>.


The Meaning of Roses


Happy June: Month of the Rose!

In a time when social etiquette strictly limited the scope of conversation and communication deemed “appropriate,” floriography or “the language of flowers” was popularly used as a secret code by which true feelings could be clandestinely expressed. Each flower held particular symbolic meaning. But in the special case of the rose, even color was significant.

White: Purity, Innocence
Yellow: Joy, Friendship
Coral: Fascination, Desire
Light Pink: Admiration, Appreciation
Dark Pink: Gratitude
Red: Passion, True Love


Click here to visit our garden of roses!