Not currently on display at the V&A

Signet Ring

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 hot 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 name Petrus Novarino engraved on this ring is probably that of its first owner.


Object details
Categories
Object type
Materials and techniques
Engraved gold
Brief description
Gold signet ring with an octagonal bezel engraved with a coat of arms and inscribed in lombardic characters PETRUS.. NOVARINO., Italy, 15th century.
Physical description
Gold signet ring with an octagonal bezel engraved with a coat of arms and inscribed in lombardic characters PETRUS.. NOVARINO..
Dimensions
  • Height: 2.5cm
  • Width: 2.5cm
  • Depth: 1.2cm
Marks and inscriptions
  • engraved with a coat of arms
  • PETRUS.. NOVARINO. (inscription in lombardic characters)
Credit line
Given by Dame Joan Evans
Object history
From the Pichon collection, sale catalogue lot 29 and Guilhou Collection, lot 572, acquired by Dame Joan Evans and given to the V&A.
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 hot 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 name Petrus Novarino engraved on this ring is probably that of its first owner.
Bibliographic references
  • Ajmar-Wollheim, Marta and Dennis, Flora At Home in Renaissance Italy, London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 2006, cat. 238, pp. 171 and 367-8
  • Taylor, Gerald and Scarisbrick, Diana Finger rings from ancient Egypt to the present day, Ashmolean Museum Press, 1978, p.51
  • Sotheby and Co, Catalogue of the superb collection of rings, including choice examples of all periods from the Egypt of the Pharaohs to the France of Napoleon I, formed by the late Monsieur E. Guilhou of Paris, November 1937, London, cat. 572
Collection
Accession number
M.276-1962

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Record createdFebruary 14, 2006
Record URL
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