Tear Bottles

Based on a tradition that dates back to ancient times, tear bottles – also called tear catchers or lachrymatory – are small glass vessels made to hold the tears of mourners. These little containers are often tear-shaped themselves, featuring a small, lipped top opening, a narrow neck, and a wider round base. A small cap is used to close and seal the bottle. Historically, tear bottles were buried with the deceased or placed inside burial tombs, but in modern times, they are often kept at home as a symbol of remembrance and devotion.

Tear bottles are typically made of glass and sit about 2” tall. These bottles are available in many different colors, from clear to cobalt blue, red, and purple. Depending on the style of bottle, the glass may be a solid color or be made with swirls or dots. There is no specific meaning behind particular colors or designs, so you should choose the one that you like best. A tear bottle is a very personal item, and it should reflect the preferences of the person who will use it or keep it.

Because the practice of using a tear bottle became fashionable during Victorian times, you can often find modern examples that feature metal filigree detailing similar to what was common in the 19th century. The metal usually decorates the lid and may surround the base of the bottle. Other bottles have metal bands around the center or base. Pewter is a common metal used for this decoration, but you can also find tear bottles with gold and silver details.

Traditionally, tears were gathered during a mourning procession or other funeral service, and the more tears that were collected, the more valued and loved the deceased was considered to be. The bottle would then be stoppered and the tears would slowly evaporate from the inside. Once all of the moisture was gone from the tear bottle, it indicated that the time of mourning was at an end.

Tear bottles from Perfect Memorials are available with a matching mirror tray on which the bottle can rest. This is an optional addition, and it does cost extra. Some bottles include a matching, non-mirrored tray at no charge.

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