A Family Heirloom - Mourning Pin.

Hair art broche in memory of Lijsbeth Douwes Beintema.

This tiny pin, it is only about one centimetre across, contains the hair, or so I was told, of my great-great-grandmother Lijsbeth Douwes Beintema. My grandmother gave me this on my 30th birthday, when I happened to be living in Amsterdam for a little while and so it was an opportunity to pass on a valuable heirloom like this one. I remarked that it looked like a pen and ink sketch, but my grandmother said, no, it is made from her hair. It is a tiny pin and I wonder if it wasn't originally the clasp of a bracelet, because when you turn it over you can see at one end an opening for the other end to hook into. It also looks a bit cobbled together on the back.

It shows a scene of a stone urn, mounted on a pedestal with the initials LDB, with some trees and shrubs around it. A sombre cemetery scene like this was typical of the Victorian era hair art that flourished in the nineteenth century and was created to honour the memory of the deceased. There were professional hair artists, but most usually hair art and jewellery was created by the women in the family. It was regarded as a pleasant passtime in memory of a loved one.

There were two methods: the hair was cut very finely and then it was scattered over the image (which had been traced over from a template) where it would stick to the areas that were gummed with glue. Or strands of hair locks would be combed and curled into a lock and then mounted in a frame. (From http://www.albertvanderzeijden.nl/geschiedenis_van_het_haarwerkje.htm)

Lijsbeth Douwes Beintema was a "welgestelde boerendochter" - a well to do farmer's daughter - and was born 17 May 1820 at Beintema Hus (Beintema House) in Westergeest, Friesland, The Netherlands. She married Thomas Jacobs Lawerman on 28 May 1843 and they had nine children. Their son Doede Thomas Lawerman married Dieverdina Fokeline Bakker and their daughter Berendina Elisabeth was my grandmother.

Lijsbeth is short for Elisabeth and I was also named Elizabeth, called Liesbeth and so I am her namesake.

This pin was stored in a little pill box that my grandmother had left over from the days that my grandfather was an "Apotheker" or pharmacist. On the lid she had written (in Dutch) the history of this heirloom:
"For Liesbeth Blomberg from her great-great-grandmother Lijsbeth Douwes Beintema married to Thomas Lawerman + 1830" As this is a mourning pin, the date has to be after 5 September 1865, which I have recorded as her date of death.
Labelled top of the box giving the origins of the
item within.


  1. Hoi Liesbeth, ik heb het met aandacht gelezen en ook het artikel over de haarwerkjes gelezen. Zo interessant! Het is toch wel geweldig dat je nog zover terug kunt naar vorige generaties. Helaas is er bij ons niet zoveel te vinden. Lieve groeten - Anne

    1. Hoi Anne, ja, vond ik ook, vandaar het verhaal. Ik zou het nog maar niet opgeven met je eigen familie geschiedenis, er is heel wat nu online te vinden, als je er de tijd in wil steken natuurlijk. Lieve groeten, Liesbeth

  2. How wonderful to have such a lovely momento.


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