Mourning jewellery and cemetery symbolism

Sunday, 27 November 2022

It’s not a secret that I’m a proud collector of antique mourning and sentimental jewellery. When I heard of a book on funerary art and the symbolism behind it, made by two brilliant Rotterdam-based artists and published by Kaisar Kolektif, I just knew it was going to be a collector’s item. Last week, I went to the festive book launch of ‘Cemetery Symbolism: An Illustrated Overview’. I’m rather pleased I have one of the first, signed copies!

Book design

Rotterdam-based artists AMOS (Jan Willem) and Moira Ramone joined forces and worked together on their debut book. Yes, it’s their debut. It’s actually hard to believe as they’ve put the utmost care and attention to detail into it. The black hardcover has a soft, leather-feel. The blind debossing makes you look twice as the design is ‘sunk’ into the cover. Skulls, flowers, a weeping willow and other symbols are surrounded by and decorated with gold foil. I also love the black capital band and reading ribbon. The ribbon comes in handy as I would never mark the pages. And then there’s the richly decorated endpaper at the beginning and at the end of the book. If I could order this design as wallpaper, I definitely would. On the photo in this blog post, you’ll see what I mean.

A source of inspiration

Both Moira and Jan Willem are fascinated by the odd and unknown. It’s not just the grim and macabre. The artists are also drawn to the art around death. Something I completely understand. And just like them, I often visit cemeteries. Together with friends I admire the craftsmanship of the tombstones, fences and choice of trees and discuss the meaning of the symbols and texts we find. One of my friends, Dorothée, has an academic background in funerary topics. Of course, she joined me at the book launch. Visiting churches and cemeteries is crucial for me and my collection. It helps me understand more of the Victorian mourning and sentimental jewellery. I’m glad Moira and Jan Willem made this book. They hope it will be of great value as a source of inspiration and a guide into the intriguing world of cemetery symbolism. I’m sure it will.

The artists

Many years ago, Jan Willem (AMOS) tattooed me. That’s how I got to know him. Next to tattooing, he works on paintings, illustrations and designs. Moira Ramone is a well-known tattoo-artist as well and combines the tattooing with painting, candle making and pottery. Have a look at their work and make sure to buy yourself a copy of ‘Cemetery Symbolism’. It’s such a sight for sore eyes!

‘Cemetery Symbolism: An Illustrated Overview’ is published in 2022 by Kaisar Kolektif in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. ISBN: 978-90-830231-1-3. Price: €85.00.

All pictured jewellery in this blog post is part of my personal collection and not for sale.