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

1400-1500 (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. This ring is engraved with a sleeping dog under the word 'muet' or 'silent'. The pearled border of the bezel has been extended into a chain for the dog. Dogs were symbols of loyalty and marital fidelity. 'Muet' or silent may refer to the seal's role in keeping the letter private.


Object details
Categories
Object type
Materials and techniques
Engraved gold
Brief description
Gold signet ring with an octagonal bezel engraved with a sleeping dog and the inscription in black letter muet ('silent'), possibly France, 1400-1500.
Physical description
Gold signet ring with an octagonal bezel engraved with a sleeping dog and the inscription in black letter muet
Dimensions
  • Height: 2.4cm
  • Width: 2.3cm
  • Depth: 1.1cm
Marks and inscriptions
inscribed muet (in black letter)
Credit line
Given 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. This ring is engraved with a sleeping dog under the word 'muet' or 'silent'. The pearled border of the bezel has been extended into a chain for the dog. Dogs were symbols of loyalty and marital fidelity. 'Muet' or silent may refer to the seal's role in keeping the letter private.

Collection
Accession number
M.200-1975

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Record createdFebruary 15, 2006
Record URL
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