The Secrets Behind the Globe de Mariée

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Before the days of photo albums, it was tradition for 18th-century newlyweds in France to record the beginnings of their married life by creating a wedding dome – or “globe de mariée”.  It was a display for newly-married couples to preserve their wedding souvenirs, and tell the story of life together.

The bride & groom each chose items for their display such as mirrors, porcelain pieces, and ormolu cut-outs. Ormolu (from French or moulu, signifying ground or pounded gold) is an English term for the gilding technique of applying finely ground, high-carat gold–mercury amalgam to an object of bronze. It is used in antique clocks, for example.


Each item had a special and very personal meaning to the bridal couple and so each dome is unique in telling their story:

  • The larger central mirror: the reflection of the soul and symbolise the truth.
  • The small diamond-shaped mirrors: the number of children the couple hoped for.
  • Rectangular mirrors: the number of years between the couple’s meeting and their promised marriage.
  • The oval mirrors: good luck gifts offered by the bridesmaids.
  • The gold bird or dove looking down over the nest below: love and peace in the home.
  • Leaves: growth and longevity.

Over the years, special items were added such as photographs, little locks of their babies’ hair, jewelry, and more ormolu symbols. Each was carefully pinned to the velvet or silk cushion, most of which were red, although pink, blue and gold were also produced.

Now highly-coveted collectibles, it’s unusual to find one in good condition, so I was delighted when my compatriot Thibaut from Kingsbridge Antiques called me from France recently and said “found you one!”. A couple of months before that, I had missed out by a matter of hours on another one he had had and was so gutted, he promised to let me know the minute he found another of similar quality.

It is such a beautiful piece and I feel honoured to have such a legacy now in our home to enjoy. Want to see more? Check out our Pinterest board!


Reference articles and image credits (first 2 photos):

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