Signet Ring thumbnail 1
Signet Ring thumbnail 2
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Jewellery, Rooms 91, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery

Signet Ring

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

This ring would have been used as a signet. Personal seals (secreta) provided an essential legal safeguard and were used to witness documents such as wills, deeds of gift, loans and commercial documents, personal letters and land indentures. A letter from Lord Berengario in Verona in 906 underscores the importance of the signet: ‘So that this may be more truly believed and more faithfully observed, we order this to be sealed with our ring, confirming it with our own hand’.

Signets could be engraved with a coat of arms for those entitled to bear them, with a personal device or sign or an initial letter. The most expensive signets were made of gold, sometimes set with an engraved gem or hardstone. More affordable alternatives were engraved silver or bronze. The bezel of this ring is engraved with a coat of arms, as yet unidentified, and an inscription which seems to be a personal name.

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.


Object details
Categories
Object type
Materials and techniques
Engraved gold
Brief description
Gold signet ring with an oval bezel engraved with an unidentified arms and inscribed in black letter iohanni loupsht(?) , West Europe, 15th century
Physical description
Gold signet ring with an oval bezel engraved with an unidentified arms and inscribed in black letter iohanni loupsht(?)
Dimensions
  • Height: 2.2cm
  • Width: 2.3cm
  • Depth: 1.3cm
Marks and inscriptions
  • inscribed iohanni loupsht(?) (in black letter)
  • engraved with an unidentified coat of arms
Object history
Ex Waterton Collection.

The arms are: three towers, two in pale, a cross crosslet, adextre.
Subject depicted
Summary
This ring would have been used as a signet. Personal seals (secreta) provided an essential legal safeguard and were used to witness documents such as wills, deeds of gift, loans and commercial documents, personal letters and land indentures. A letter from Lord Berengario in Verona in 906 underscores the importance of the signet: ‘So that this may be more truly believed and more faithfully observed, we order this to be sealed with our ring, confirming it with our own hand’.



Signets could be engraved with a coat of arms for those entitled to bear them, with a personal device or sign or an initial letter. The most expensive signets were made of gold, sometimes set with an engraved gem or hardstone. More affordable alternatives were engraved silver or bronze. The bezel of this ring is engraved with a coat of arms, as yet unidentified, and an inscription which seems to be a personal name.



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.

Collection
Accession number
804-1871

About this object record

Explore the Collections contains over a million catalogue records, and over half a million images. It is a working database that includes information compiled over the life of the museum. Some of our records may contain offensive and discriminatory language, or reflect outdated ideas, practice and analysis. We are committed to addressing these issues, and to review and update our records accordingly.

You can write to us to suggest improvements to the record.

Suggest Feedback

Record createdFebruary 14, 2006
Record URL
Download as: JSONIIIF Manifest