Gateway Object: Sacred Heart Ornament

Nickel plated sacred heart ornament. A heart shape with crucifix on top, emitting a halo of rays


This ornament is die-cast. It was in production at Newman Brothers between the 1920s and 1995. Newman Brothers designed it and had it manufactured off, having no die-casting facilities of their own. Between 1894 and the mid 1960s they used sand casting to manufacture products but by the mid 1960s more efficient production methods became available. These were less time consuming and gave a more consistent result. Newman Brothers commissioned outside die-casting companies to produce a range of their products for them.


This Sacred Heart ornament entered production at Newman Brothers sometime around the 1920s. This coincides with the canonisation of the French nun Sister Mary Margaret Alacoque in May 1920 who promoted devotion to the Sacred Heart. She had become popular among Irish Catholics, Birmingham had one of the largest populations of Irish Catholics, the Catholic funeral therefore were a significant market for any funeral director. Newman Brothers catered to this market by offering a wide range of furniture aimed at Catholics which they sold in both England and Ireland.

Newman Brothers sold to Irish funeral directors and wholesale manufacturers throughout the 20th century. With the Troubles growing more intense during the 1960s and 1970s, Newmans’ began to use ‘middle-men’ to sell their goods in Northern Ireland. One such company was the Doggart family, members of whom also held shares in Newman Brothers. They bought products from Newmans’ and then sold them on. This was a shrewd decision as disguised the British origin of the products.

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