By Ashley Davis
An array of mourning pins and rings from the collection of Anita and Irvin G. Schorsch that will go to auction at Freeman’s in Philadelphia this November
Philadelphia--The memento mori and mourning jewelry collection amassed by historians and collectors Anita and Irvin G. Schorsch will be up for auction next month.

The extensive collection of more than 150 pieces, dating from the 17th to 19th centuries, will be offered at Freeman’s American Furniture, Folk & Decorative Arts auction, happening Nov. 15 in Philadelphia.

The Schorschs were collectors of all manners of Americana and English craftsmanship, including furniture decorative arts, needlework, textiles, fine arts and silver, but Anita had a particular passion for mourning jewelry.

Her study of the subject resulted in the 1976 publication “Mourning Becomes America, Mourning Art in the New Nation,” which coincided with museum exhibitions at the Pennsylvania State Museum and the Albany Institute of History and Art.

In 1990, the Schorschs founded the Museum of Mourning Art to house their collection at Arlington Cemetery in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania.

Their collection of mourning jewelry that will be available for auction shows the transition of mourning jewelry over the century, beginning with more literal symbols like skull, skeleton and urn motifs from the 17th century depicted on slides and rings, to more refined interpretations of the jewelry category in the late 18th century, which feature idealized portraits of the deceased or grieving, locks of hair and references to heaven on pins and pendants.

Some mourning costumes from men, women and children from 19th century will also be for sale, along with presidential mourning ribbons and props and furnishings.

Freeman’s said they believe the collection will be the largest of memento mori and mourning jewelry ever offered at auction.

The majority of lots are estimated to sell for between $500 and $2,500. Bidding can be done in person or online.

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