We went to an Antique Dealers' Market in Nice, France, in search of unusual religious items and were hugely impressed when we saw this: an elegantly shaped French Mourning Cross in chromed metal with Ebony wood inserts. The figure of Christ can be unscrewed from the back, the chrome plate then releases the round compartment that currently holds pale blue silk on the obverse and is empty on the reverse so it can take two items in memorium, one on either side. It is beautifully engineered and surprisingly simple to assemble - often a photo of a loved one and / or maybe a lock of hair would be placed in the round opening - small tokens of memory to keep close by. Mourning crosses and jewellery were extremely popular in the late nineteenth century and often a lock of hair was woven into a form of "hair art" to display in the mourning item.
This is an extremely well engineered item with a beautiful shape and lovely detail. The chrome of the back is continued as a frame all the way around the intricately shaped crucifix and holds the ebony wood in place. The figure of Christ, the Corpus Christi, has been handled often over the years as can be seen by the patination. When the circular display is opened up, it can be seen that there is glass on both the back and the front, to protect any mourning token that is placed inside. In the absence of any personal item, the blue silk currently gives a fine finish to this extremely unusual crucifix. It is in completely original condition which is very good for the age; there is a slight crack to one of the pieces of inlaid wood, probably due to drying in a centrally heated house. The chrome will benefit from a good polish, which we would be happy to assist with if required. The cross is 5.5" / 14cm in height with a chrome loop at the top for hanging and it is 4" / 10.5 cm wide. The weight is 150 grammes.
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