Skip navigation

Object Name: Mourning ring
Date: 1753
Related People:
Medium: Gold
Dimensions: Overall: 1/8 in. × 3/4 in. (0.3 × 1.9 cm)
Place made: North America, New York
Description: Gold mourning ring; plain circular band with triple-molded exterior; inscription engraved along interior.
Credit Line: Gift of Miss Helen Burr Smith
Object Number: 1974.21
Send to a Friend
Marks: Engraved on inside of ring: "C. Thurman Obt Mar 29th 1753 Agd 33 Years."

Gallery Label:

Colonial Americans often mourned the death of loved ones by distributing gold mourning rings-usually engraved gold bands-to friends and relatives attending the funeral. The engraved inscription inside this gold band indicates that it memorialized Catherine Thurman (1720-1753), who died at age thirty-three. This ring is presumably one of a group that was purchased at the time of her death for distribution to close friends and family members. The simple design with parallel ribs appears to have been popular in New York from the 1740s to the 1760s. Surviving examples with black enamel in the grooves suggest that this ring may have originally been decorated in the same manner.


Elizabeth Thurman (1725-1819), who married Nicholas Roosevelt (1715-1769); to their son Nicholas Roosevelt, Jr. (1758-1838), who married Margaret Cramer (1769-1832); to their daughter Catharine Roosevelt (1801-1891), who married John D. Dunn (1793-1856); to their daughter Mary Gilchrist Dunn (1839-1921), who married Robert Smith; to their son George Robert Smith (d. 1948); given in 1950 to Helen Burr Smith (1892-1980), the donor.


"Glimmers of the Past: Presentation Silver in the Collection of the New-York Historical Society," New-York Historical Society, August 3–December 5, 1999.

"Stories in Sterling: Four Centuries of Silver in New York," New-York Historical Society, May 4–September 23, 2012; Flagler Museum, Palm Beach, FL, January 28–April 20, 2014.