Couple wearing mourning pins

By: usermattw

Jan 31 2016

Tags: ,

Category: Pairs


Click here to view it larger.


What it is:

Photo (6.75 x 4.75 inches) mounted to a cardboard frame/backing (10 x 8 inches; I have cropped the backing from the scan because it was distractingly damaged.)


What I know about it:

There are a variety of notes written on the back in at least two different hands with two different pencils.  I’m making out words that might be Helen & Erwin (the sitters?), 1908 (the date?),  2/82 white matt (photographer’s instructions for developing the photo?), family (not enough context to be sure).  Otherwise, I find it too illegible (and not sufficiently scannable to let you have a go, sorry).



If the names on the back relate to the people on the front, could we be looking at Erwin and Helen in a state of mourning?  They are wearing matching pins, each showing the photo of a baby.  (Here is a slightly larger view of the one on the man, which also lets you see the interesting button on his shirt.)  While I suppose there’s a slight chance that they are celebrating a birth (or an even slighter chance that the baby is running for elected office), I think it’s most likely that these pins were created to commemorate a death.  And let’s face it, this couple looks unusually dour, even for a photo from that time period.  (There are other examples of mourning pins to be found with a quick internet search, many of which are considerably fancier than the ones here.)   And just what is (was) the relationship between our couple and the deceased baby?  Parents?  Grandparents?  Other relatives?  It even crossed my mind that the child might have been older, but that the only photo they had was from infancy.  Am I even correct in assuming that these two are a married couple?  So many possibilities.  It is, of course, the great distance of years that allows us to coldly analyze a situation of such sadness.

4 comments on “Couple wearing mourning pins”

  1. Gee. I never saw pins like that before.

    • I don’t recall seeing them before either, but I couldn’t imagine what else they would be, so I started googling based on what I was guessing, and quickly came up with mourning pins. If anybody thinks they are anything else, I’d be happy to hear.

  2. He looks like he’s staring at me! And although she looks stern, she also looks as if she might burst into laughter at any moment.

    The pins are new to me also.

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