Memorial Cards and Floral Arrangements

 

Memorial, remembrance, or funeral cards were made of paper, often with black borders, ornate lettering, and illustrations of monuments, cemetery scenes, or other imagery. The cards included the name, birth and death dates, and other information about the deceased. They appeared in England in the 1840s and the United States quickly adopted the practice. The cards were (and still are) distributed at funerals or mailed as announcements or invitations.

 

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Memorial Card Company, Descriptive Catalog and Price List : Memorial Cards, Prayer Cards, Mourning Stationery, Verses, Prayers, Portrait Copying, Etc., Etc., Philadelphia: [after 1877]. Mark A. Anderson Collection of Post-Mortem Photography.

 

 

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Left: Art Memorial Publishing Company, [Cyrus McKean's memorial card], Philadelphia: 1888. Mark A. Anderson Collection of Post-Mortem Photography.

 

Right: [Anna Parr's memorial card]: 1901. Mark A. Anderson Collection of Post-Mortem Photography.

 

 

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Left: [Libbie Townsend's funeral card]: 1861. Mark A. Anderson Collection of Post-Mortem Photography.

 

Right: George Mitchell, [William Sutherland's memorial card], Greefield, Indiana: 1893. Mark A. Anderson Collection of Post-Mortem Photography.

 

 

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Democrat Print, [William Oscar's funeral card]: Eaton: 1855. Mark A. Anderson Collection of Post-Mortem Photography.

 

 

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Flowers were used as expressions of affection and beauty as well as sources of fragrance to mask the smell of the decomposing body. Floral arrangements in the shapes of common funerary symbols were produced in the last half of the 19th century as funerals became more lavish. In addition to post-mortem photographs, photographers took still-life portraits of floral arrangements as tokens of remembrance. Firms such as Hardy & Yarnall offered to preserve flowers and arrange them with photographs and the deceased's hair as a memento.

 

Hardy & Yarnall, Natural Flowers Embalmed by the Oriental Process, Philadelphia: ca. 1870s.

 

 

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Left: Home Photo Co., [Floral arrangement for an unidentified woman, with pasted-on portrait photograph], albumin print, Williamston, Michigan: ca. 1880s-1890s. Mark A. Anderson Collection of Post-Mortem Photography.

 

Right: Bundy, [Floral arrangement for an unidentified woman, re-photographed with portrait laid over the original print], silver gelatin print, Terre Haute: ca. 1900s. Mark A. Anderson Collection of Post-Mortem Photography.

 

 

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Left: [Floral arrangement for an unidentified woman], albumin print: ca. 1890s. Mark A. Anderson Collection of Post-Mortem Photography.

 

Right: Tubbs, [Floral arrangement for an unidentified woman], silver gelatin print, Grand Haven, Michigan: ca. 1890s-1900s. Mark A. Anderson Collection of Post-Mortem Photography.

 

 

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[Floral arrangements for an unidentified child], [silver gelatin print?]: ca. 1890s. Mark A. Anderson Collection of Post-Mortem Photography.

This example shows many different floral representations of funerary symbols in a makeshift display beside an exterior wall of a building.

 

 

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[Joshua Turner Mull floral arrangements], albumin print: ca. 1880s-1890s. Mark A. Anderson Collection of Post-Mortem Photography.

 

This massive photograph of Joshua Mull's floral arrangements include a cabinet card portrait and a colored enlargement of the same portrait. The arrangement in the lower left corner is Jacob's Ladder, a ladder to heaven. A pillow, signifying rest, and a bouquet also accompany the portraits.

 

 

Left: [Joshua Turner Mull], cabinet card: ca. 1880s-1890s. Recto. Mark A. Anderson Collection of Post-Mortem Photography.

 

Right: [Joshua Turner Mull], cabinet card: ca. 1880s-1890s. Verso. Mark A. Anderson Collection of Post-Mortem Photography.

 

The photographer wrote instructions to himself on the back of this portrait, describing the necessary colors for the framed enlargement: "Water color eyes Dark Brown Hair Dark Brown complexion medium"

 

 

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