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Final Farewell: The Culture of Death and the Afterlife

Memento Mori

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Invitation to the Funeral of Mr. John Moor

Invitation to the Funeral of Mr. John MoorBeginning in the later seventeenth century, undertakers supplied the living with objects concerning the recently deceased. Printed ephemera, such as this funeral invitation, were common. They often featured popular memento mori text and iconography, such as the phrase “Remember your death,” the skull and crossbones, and the winged hourglass. Similar to other works in this exhibition, this invitation shows allegorical figures of Death and Time (a skeleton holding an arrow and a winged man, respectively).

(British, active early 18th c.)
Invitation to the Funeral of Mr. John Moor
Woodcut on paper, with annotations in pen and brown ink
Gilbreath-McLorn Museum Fund

Technological advances in printing allowed undertakers to use stock borders and text that could be quickly adapted for the occasion. For instance, on this invitation the stock text reads, “You are desired to Accompany the Corps of ____ to the Parish Church of ____ on____ the____ of 17____ by____ of the Clock in the _____ precisely: And bring this Ticket with you.” The blank spaces were then filled in with an individualized, hand-written message. Pallbearers were often assigned a number on their ticket to show their position in carrying the casket.

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