The latest wholesale issue of Victorian Trading Company arrived at the museum last week and all of the volunteers gathered around to see what new items were being offered. The volunteers are some of The Shop’s best customers, thanks in part to the discount the museum affords them.
As advertised on the front of their catalog, Victorian Trading Company prides itself in its selection of antique replica gifts, home decoratives and domestics, greetings/stationery, jewelry and accessories. In their jewelry selection this season is a Victorian Jewelry Casket described as: Intricately detailed, the glass-lidded chamber will harbor your precious baubles while complementing perfume atomizers and other vanity-top lovelies. 6×2.“
It does indeed resemble a sarcophagus with a glass lid. The oblong body, no pun intended, is an aged silver color with engraved details and a clasp. The feet appear to be a representation of a fleur-de-lis motif. Some definitions suggest that word casket is a corruption of the French cassette, small box; perhaps that explains the fleur-de-lis emblem that is associated with French royalty. The lily flower is also associated with purity and resurrection. And of course, the feet may not even be a fleur-de-lis at all; the picture in the catalog is rather small!
A casket for jewelry, you might muse. Today’s society associates caskets with cemeteries. In earlier years and cultures caskets were containers, repositories for valuables, such as jewels and documents. During the romantic wave that swept over the Victorian Era, death became softened even romanticized. Graveyards, with their puritanical associations, grew into park like cemeteries. The word cemetery comes from a Greek word meaning sleeping space. In this peaceful resting place coffins transformed into caskets, a place to keep the earthly remains of loved ones.
After the discussion about caskets and coffins, graveyards and cemeteries and heaven and …. well, the question remained: do we purchase the jewelry casket for The Shop? And the answer: we haven’t decided.
On a related note, the Victorian Era park like cemeteries we have in Norfolk and throughout the Commonwealth are quite lovely spaces and especially at this time of the year. It is not unusual at all to take a drive or a stroll in cemeteries. The art is magnificent. The nature is restorative. Get out of the car or off the bike and wander about to read the stones. Do please obey cemetery rules and regulations. If the cemetery has an office or even a gift shop, stop in for a tour map. If there is a donation box, consider leaving a contribution to help with future conservation and preservation efforts. Enjoy!