Our Treasures: “Immortelle”

Hi, Everyone!

The process of letting go of all of the things we’ve acquired and loved isn’t always easy.  Many objects hold memories — and collectively emit an energy that warms a room and makes our home OUR home.

So we thought a wonderful way to let go of some of our most treasured things is to share their stories with all of you — and, in the process, create a permanent place in cyberspace for them to live forever.

Next up is this fascinating curiosity:


It’s called an “Immortelle” — an antique French mourning wreath.

Quite the fashion at the end of the 1800’s, Immortelles were purchased by the family of a deceased loved one for use at the funeral, on the side of the funeral carriage and then left at the graveside or in the mausoleum.

The wreaths are quite large — almost 4 FEET tall and 2.5 FEET across, in the case of ours — and made from wire, thread, and TENS of THOUSANDS of glass beads.  A wreath this size took over 100 HOURS to make — a painstaking process of wiring tiny beads in exact numbers and sequences to create leaves, flowers and intricate framing designs.  Once all of the beading was finished, all of the flowers and leaves were twisted into their respective shapes, and everything was properly attached to the metal frame, the REAL tedious work began. EVERY INCH of the wire frame had to be completely WRAPPED in fine THREAD — around and around … thousands upon thousands upon thousands of times!

Just LOOK at the detail (click on the photo for a much closer look):


Obviously, this was a very expensive thing for the family to buy — and it served as a worldly expression of the position the deceased held in the family and in society.  They were MEANT to be impressive — and this one certainly is!

Because Immortelles were usually left exposed to the elements, they didn’t survive for long. The metal rusted, corroded and broke.  The thread rotted and blew away or was harvested by birds for building their nests.  Each bead represented a memory, and once they fell to the ground, the beads would be gathered up, sorted and used for making a NEW Immortelle. The fact that this one even EXISTS is remarkable — and makes it a VERY RARE object indeed!

Linda and I found our Immortelle at a wonderful antiques store in Lake Orion, Michigan about 20 years ago — and it has hung on our wall ever since.  It does show a few areas of bead loss and wire decay which isn’t surprising considering it’s age (if you were as old as this is, you’d be dropping a few parts of yourself too) — but it hasn’t lost a single bead in the entire time we’ve been together.

I thought it might grace our final resting place when our time comes — which I know is a very romantic thought — but I think it best that our Immortelle be given a chance to be truly immortal.  Hopefully, we will find someone who will cherish it as we have and then pass it on to someone who will do likewise — and continue the chain of custody for generations to come.

What we know for certain is that a Central American cloud forest environment and all of the moisture that comes along with it would be quite hostile for an Immortelle, so it’s definitely up for sale.

If you’d like to buy it, you can see more photos and pricing/shipping information in our EBAY STORE — but CALL us directly at 704-987-6500 and we’ll give you the 10% that eBay will charge us if it sells through them.

We do love comments, so please feel free to leave one by clicking on the “LEAVE A REPLY” link you’ll find at the top of this post.





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