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47 Victorian Things: Rugg end of the Victorian period, the cemetery had lost its nobler purposes. The borough engineer was generally called in to add grid-like extensions to the original undulating designs, usually with the remit of maximizing grave space. The landscape became subsumed under a riot of grave furniture that proved impossible to maintain, and the graves of the poor—which were rarely more than unmarked pits, in the less salubrious corners of the sites—consumed vast acres that offered little consolation. The materialist turn encourages the historian not to take objects for granted. The cemetery is a fine case in point.A simplistic assumption that population growth required an increase in burial space is poor explanation for cemetery development in the nineteenth century.The act of inquiring into the meaning of things reveals, for cemeteries, shifting connotations.The implications of the shifts are that basic questions on why a particular cemetery was established, and when, and by whom, always merit detailed study. Further Reading Brooks, Chris, Brent Elliot, Julian Litten, Eric Robinson, Richard Robinson, and Philip Temple. Mortal Remains. Exeter:Wheaton, 1989. Matthews, Samantha. Poetical Remains: Poets’Graves,Bodies,and Books in the Nineteenth Century. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2004. Rugg, Julie.“The Emergence of a New Burial Form: Cemetery Development in the First Half of the Nineteenth Century.” Grave Matters: A History of Burial 1700-1850. Ed. M. Cox. York: Council for British Archaeology, 1998. 44–53. • Coral Jewellery K ath a r in e A n derson • Coral jewellery, from elaborate tiaras to simple strings of beads, was one of the most characteristic forms of personal jewellery in theVictorian period. The origins of the fashion have been variously traced to Napoleon’s Italian campaigns, to the coral jewellery of a royal bride (the Duchess d’Aumale in Naples in 1845), or (more circularly) to the era’s general interest in decorative naturalism (Flower; O’Day; Jordan).The European centre for coral design was Naples, with easy access to beds of red coral (Corallium rubrum) in the Mediterranean, which were indeed largely destroyed by the popularity of coral in this era. In London, the prominent designer Robert Phillips directed the fashion from his studio in Cockspur Street. Its heyday in Britain—particularly of the naturalistic strain, which preserved the spiky natural shapes of the coral forms—was the 1850s. Later the fashion collapsed, perhaps under its own weight.The journalist and novelist George Augustus Sala, reviewing the Paris victorian review • Volume 34 Number 1 48 exhibition in 1867, wrote in obvious relief that the craze for“twisted sticks of seeming red sealing-wax” and “fragments of ginger or orris root or even the domestic forked radish” had passed (qtd. in Flower 18). Evidently, this fashion can tell us about new patterns of wealth, consumption, and leisure in the middle classes. Equally obviously, coral joined other midVictorian fashions for stylizing the pursuit of natural history: insect jewellery, feathered clothing, framed displays of shells or butterflies, even the careful arrangements of parlour aquariums (Tolini; Brunner). In this sense, the interest in coral was part of a wider concern for the aesthetics of natural forms, as well as a manifestation of the appeal of popular natural history (Allen; Barber; Lightman). But the history of the study of coral suggests that the jewellery held further and more complicated significance. The limestone exoskeleton of marine invertebrates, decoratively transformed, evoked a particular set of intellectual and cultural ideas about geohistory, the nature of organisms, and the tropical societies where coral reefs were most common. A coral object brought these concerns imaginatively down to earth, where they could be easily stroked by the fingers or held on the palm. Examining material objects is an established practice in the history of science , represented, for example, by work on instruments, pressed specimens, paper trails, and laboratory spaces. It reflects the influence of other disciplines, like anthropology and sociology, but equally emerges from the traditions of specialized subfields like the history of instruments and the history of cartography, A tiara of coral branches and beads, made by Phillips Brothers, c.1860. Courtesy of theVictoria and Albert Museum, London. 49 Victorian Things: Anderson disciplines to which material objects...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1923-3280
Print ISSN
0848-1512
Pages
pp. 47-52
Launched on MUSE
2015-10-07
Open Access
No
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