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Hand-Colored Mourning Print for a child, circa 1830s

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Directory: Traditional Collectibles: Ephemera: Paper: Pre 1837 VR: Item # 1231732

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Hand-Colored Mourning Print for a child, circa 1830s

Pre-Victorian, mourning print from the early 19th century inscribed in 1832. These early American lithographs were hand-colored and inscribed as mourning mementos. The present excellent example memorializes the loss of an infant child “aged 9 months and 11 days” and depicts a surviving family of three, presumably intended to represent the parents and an older sister to the deceased, standing solemnly in dark mourning clothes by a large memorial stone amidst a stand of weeping willow trees. The pre-printed words on the tombstone are “In Memory of” followed by a large blank space which was provided for the hand-written inscription, in this case eight lines naming the deceased child and followed by a short poem as follows: “Maria E. Nicholas / who died May 23d 1832 / Aged 9 months and 11 days / The Lord, who gave this precious / babe, / Hath called it home to rest, / forever in its Father’s house / To be with angels blest.” A break in the foliage reveals a pastoral landscape and a country church in the far distance. Cemetery memorials of the 18th and 19th century often utilized urns as a symbol of death as were weeping willow trees. Infant mortality was very high until the 20th century, and the inscription is typical of the short poems found on actual tombstones of the period. In the lower left, outside the picture and below the thin line border are printed in small letters “Lith. & Pub. by J. Baillie 118 Nassau St. N.Y. The print pre-dates the practice of including copyright dates and was likely in circulation for a number of years before the inscribed date of 1832. Dimensions: overall (outside edges): 14” (h) x 10” (w); inside border: 12-1/2” (h) x 8-1/8” (w).

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