research and learning

#12 - Death and Bereavement on Transfer-Printing

Parkes, Colin Murray

Death is an unpopular topic in our society and we may ask why anyone would want to include death-related imagery on items intended to decorate homes or to be used in the daily consumption of food and drink. A systematic trawl of the current TCC database reveals 104 patterns that are directly related to death. It would be tedious to show every one of them here and the examples that follow have been chosen to shed light on attitudes to death in the 19th century 1 . A surprising number of these were found on children's wares as is shown in Judith Siddall's Database Discovery article 'Inappropriate Patterns for Children'. Hopefully the reasons for this 'inappropriate' behaviour will become apparent in this article. In the event the patterns may also teach us something about our own attitudes to death. To aid the flow of my argument I shall reserve technical details to the Endnotes.

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