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Signet ring

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1600-50 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Engraved gold

  • Museum number:

    M.230-1975

  • Gallery location:

    Jewellery, Rooms 91, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery, case 9, shelf A, box 5

A seal or signet ring was used to apply the wearer's personal mark to the sealing wax on a document. The seal then denoted the legality of the document and the identification of the issuing authority or individual. The ring could be engraved with a coat of arms, if the owner was entitled to use one, or with a personal initial, a merchant's mark. The design on this ring shows the letters S and G joined by a knot. The name of the ring's owner 'Elizabeth Edolff' is engraved around the edge of the bezel. Her identity is not certain, but she may be the Elizabeth Edolph who was baptised 29 April 1599 at Hinxhill, Kent.

This ring forms part of a collection of over 600 rings and engraved gems from the collection of Edmund Waterton (1830-81). Waterton was one of the foremost ring collectors of the nineteenth century and was the author of several articles on rings, a book on English devotion to the Virgin Mary and an unfinished catalogue of his collection (the manuscript is now the National Art Library). Waterton was noted for his extravagance and financial troubles caused him to place his collection in pawn with the London jeweller Robert Phillips. When he was unable to repay the loan, Phillips offered to sell the collection to the Museum and it was acquired in 1871. A small group of rings which Waterton had held back were acquired in 1899.

Physical description

Gold signet ring, the circular bezel inscribed with S and G bound by a true-lover's knot and inscribed 'ELIZABET EDOLFF.'

Place of Origin

England (made)

Date

1600-50 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Engraved gold

Marks and inscriptions

inscribed with S and G bound by a true-lover's knot and inscribed 'ELIZABET EDOLFF.'

Dimensions

Height: 2.1 cm, Width: 2 cm, Depth: 1.4 cm

Object history note

ex Waterton Collection

Historical context note

There was a Kentish family of the name of Edolphe at the time of James I

Descriptive line

Gold signet ring, the circular bezel inscribed with S and G bound by a true-lover's knot and inscribed 'ELIZABET EDOLFF.', England, 1600-50.

Materials

Gold

Subjects depicted

Knots (motifs); Lovers

Categories

Jewellery; Metalwork; Europeana Fashion Project

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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