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Ring

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1500-1600 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Engraved gold

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Dame Joan Evans

  • Museum number:

    M.223-1975

  • Gallery location:

    Jewellery, Rooms 91, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery, case 9, shelf A, box 15

A seal or signet ring was used to apply the wearer's personal mark to the sealing wax on a document. The seal then demonstrated the legality of the document and the identification of the issuing authority or individual. Signet rings could be engraved with a coat of arms or crest, an initial, a merchant's mark (a geometric symbol used to mark goods or personal belongings), or a personal symbol. Sixteenth and seventeenth century portraits show signet rings worn on the forefinger or thumb, presumably to make it easy to apply the ring to the wax by turning the hand. They were items of jewellery with a practical function but the use of precious metals and engraved hardstones indicates that they were also signs of status.

The mark on the bezel is a merchant's mark, used to mark goods and as a signet for those not entitled to a coat of arms. Most merchants in the sixteenth and seventeenth century had marks, easily identifiable and formed with a few strokes of the brush. In England, most marks were like mastheads, designed around an inverted V, a double X or W, a reversed 4 or a combination of these elements. Many merchants rings also bear religious or talismanic inscriptions, combining a spiritual with a commercial function.

Physical description

Gold ring, the oval bezel engraved with a merchant's mark of a double barred cross between G and S

Place of Origin

England (made)

Date

1500-1600 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Engraved gold

Marks and inscriptions

Double barred cross between G and S
Merchant's mark, engraved

Dimensions

Height: 2.5 cm, Width: 2.8 cm, Depth: 1.4 cm

Descriptive line

Gold ring, the oval bezel engraved with a merchant's mark of a double barred cross between G and S, England, 1500-1600.

Materials

Gold

Subjects depicted

Commerce

Categories

Jewellery; Metalwork; Europeana Fashion Project

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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