“Silent the lady sat alone:
In her ears were rings of dead men’s bones;
The brooch on her breast shone white and fine,
‘Twas the polished joint of a Yankee’s spine;
And the well-carved handle of her fan
Was the finger-bone of a Lincoln man.
She turned aside a flower to cull,
From a vase which was made of a human skull;
For, to make her forget the loss of her slaves
Her lovers had rifled dead men’s graves.
Do you think I’m describing a witch or ghoul?
There are no such things — and I’m not a fool;
Nor did she reside in Ashantee;
No — the lady fair was an F.F.V.“
The Golden Era (San Francisco, California) – Aug 24, 1862
From: Vera’s Victorian Variety
(The above image and other examples can also be found at the linked website.)
Museum collections often include some of these pieces, including those carved by Civil War prisoners. Bone carvings were traded to guards in exchange for extra food or privileges.