Signet 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

Signet Ring

late 15th century (made)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

Rings are the most commonly surviving medieval jewels. They were worn by both sexes, across all levels of society. Some portraits show wearers with multiple rings across all their fingers. Although rings were worn for decoration, they also had important practical functions. Signet rings such as this one were pressed into sealing wax to create a unique, legally recognised signature.

Signets could be engraved with a coat of arms for those entitled to bear them, with a personal device or simply with an initial letter. The arms on this ring may be those of William Lovell of Norfolk. A strip of paper once attached to the ring stated that it had been found in 1777 at Morley in Norfolk.


Object details
Categories
Object type
Materials and techniques
Engraved silver
Brief description
Silver signet ring with a lozenge shaped bezel engraved with the arms of Lovell, Co. Norfolk, for William Lovell (d.1476), with applied details on the shoulders, England, late 15th century
Physical description
Silver signet ring with a lozenge shaped bezel engraved with the arms of Lovell, Co. Norfolk, for William Lovell (d.1476), with applied details on the shoulders. The arms are described as 'A chevron between three squirrels sejant'.
Dimensions
  • Height: 2.7cm
  • Width: 2.8cm
  • Depth: 1.6cm
Marks and inscriptions
engraved with a coat of arms (the arms of Lovell, Co. Norfolk, for William Lovell (d.1476))
Credit line
Given by Dame Joan Evans
Object history
A parchment strip was attached to the ring inscribed in a late eighteenth century hand 'This ring was found 1777 at Morley, Norfolk,the arms belong to Henry Lovell, Lord Lovell. He married Eliz. D. of John de la Pole Duke of Suffolk temp. H.7"

From the Philip Nelson Collection, acquired by Dame Joan Evans
Subject depicted
Association
Summary
Rings are the most commonly surviving medieval jewels. They were worn by both sexes, across all levels of society. Some portraits show wearers with multiple rings across all their fingers. Although rings were worn for decoration, they also had important practical functions. Signet rings such as this one were pressed into sealing wax to create a unique, legally recognised signature.



Signets could be engraved with a coat of arms for those entitled to bear them, with a personal device or simply with an initial letter. The arms on this ring may be those of William Lovell of Norfolk. A strip of paper once attached to the ring stated that it had been found in 1777 at Morley in Norfolk.

Collection
Accession number
M.264-1962

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Record createdFebruary 14, 2006
Record URL
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