Ring thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Jewellery, Rooms 91, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery

Ring

1600-50 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Signet rings, engraved with a coat of arms, owner's initial or the mark used by a merchant to identify his goods are one of the most common types of surviving medieval and Renaissance rings. The engraved bezel of the ring was pressed into sealing wax and this was then fixed onto a letter or deed. This ring is engraved with an ownership mark, often called a merchant's mark, a geometric sign, frequently based on the number 4 or on a variation of a cross, which was used as a proprietary mark. Merchant’s marks were a key part of commercial and social life - they were used to seal deeds as a legal signature and when marking bales of goods, to settle disputes over ownership when those goods had gone astray through theft, shipwreck or piracy. Prosperous merchants also had their marks set in their houses, windows and on their gravestones or included them in their personal portraits.

The merchant's mark is surmounted by a tiny skull and encircled by the inscription 'Ricordati il tuo finn'. This inscription is reminiscent of the 'Memento mori' or 'Behold the end' inscriptions commonly found on rings and is a exhortation to the wearer to remember the brevity of worldly life and the necessity to prepare the soul for eternal life. The phrase 'In tutti il tuoi affari ricordati del tuo fine e tu non peccherai giammai' can be found in the Italian translation of the Bible by Giovanni Diodati (1641), Ecclesiastes, ch.VII, v.38.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Engraved gold
Brief Description
Gold ring, the octagonal bezel engraved with a shield with two notches and a merchant's mark with C & R attached, a skull above and the inscription 'RICORDATI. IL. TUO. FINN.' (Remember the end). Possibly Italy, 1600-50.
Physical Description
Gold ring, the octagonal bezel engraved with a shield with two notches and a merchant's mark with C & R attached, a skull above and the inscription 'RICORDATI. IL. TUO. FINN.', maker's mark 'MF' conjoined in a shield
Dimensions
  • Height: 2.1cm
  • Width: 2.1cm
  • Depth: 1.4cm
Marks and Inscriptions
  • marked with C & R attached (Merchant's mark)
  • inscribed 'RICORDATI. IL. TUO. FINN.' (It has been suggested that the inscription is a literary conceit)
  • marked 'MF' conjoined in a shield (Maker's mark)
Credit line
Given by Dame Joan Evans
Object history
Acquired by Dame Joan Evans in London in 1932
Subjects depicted
Summary
Signet rings, engraved with a coat of arms, owner's initial or the mark used by a merchant to identify his goods are one of the most common types of surviving medieval and Renaissance rings. The engraved bezel of the ring was pressed into sealing wax and this was then fixed onto a letter or deed. This ring is engraved with an ownership mark, often called a merchant's mark, a geometric sign, frequently based on the number 4 or on a variation of a cross, which was used as a proprietary mark. Merchant’s marks were a key part of commercial and social life - they were used to seal deeds as a legal signature and when marking bales of goods, to settle disputes over ownership when those goods had gone astray through theft, shipwreck or piracy. Prosperous merchants also had their marks set in their houses, windows and on their gravestones or included them in their personal portraits.



The merchant's mark is surmounted by a tiny skull and encircled by the inscription 'Ricordati il tuo finn'. This inscription is reminiscent of the 'Memento mori' or 'Behold the end' inscriptions commonly found on rings and is a exhortation to the wearer to remember the brevity of worldly life and the necessity to prepare the soul for eternal life. The phrase 'In tutti il tuoi affari ricordati del tuo fine e tu non peccherai giammai' can be found in the Italian translation of the Bible by Giovanni Diodati (1641), Ecclesiastes, ch.VII, v.38.
Collection
Accession Number
M.272-1962

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record createdNovember 23, 2005
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