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Ring

  • Place of origin:

    Italy (possibly, made)

  • Date:

    1600-50 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Engraved gold

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Dame Joan Evans

  • Museum number:

    M.272-1962

  • Gallery location:

    Jewellery, Rooms 91, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery, case 9, shelf A, box 16

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.

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

Place of Origin

Italy (possibly, made)

Date

1600-50 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Engraved gold

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

Dimensions

Height: 2.1 cm, Width: 2.1 cm, Depth: 1.4 cm

Object history note

Acquired by Dame Joan Evans in London in 1932

Descriptive line

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.

Materials

Gold

Subjects depicted

Skull (skeleton component); Memento mori; Shields (motifs); Commerce

Categories

Jewellery; Metalwork; Europeana Fashion Project

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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