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Signet ring

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1500-1600 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Engraved gold

  • Museum number:

    795-1871

  • Gallery location:

    Jewellery, Rooms 91, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery, case 9, shelf A, box 18

This ring would have been used as a signet, pressed into hot wax to seal a letter or packet. 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.

Signet rings could be engraved with a coat of arms or crest, an initial, a merchant's mark (a geometric symbol used to mark goods or personal belongings), or a personal symbol. Sixteenth and seventeenth century portraits show signet rings worn on the forefinger or thumb, presumably to make it easy to apply the ring to the wax by turning the hand. They were items of jewellery with a practical function but the use of precious metals and engraved hardstones indicates that they were also signs of status.

The bezel of this ring is engraved with a dog on a leash lying under a tree and the letters IL.

Physical description

Gold signet ring with a circular bezel engraved with a hound on a leash, couchant beneath a tree, and IL in lombardic characters

Place of Origin

England (made)

Date

1500-1600 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Engraved gold

Marks and inscriptions

inscribed IL
in lombardic characters

Dimensions

Height: 2.6 cm, Width: 2.5 cm, Depth: 1.3 cm

Object history note

ex Waterton Collectiuon

Descriptive line

Gold signet ring with a circular bezel engraved with a hound on a leash, couchant beneath a tree, and IL in lombardic characters, possibly England, 1500-1600.

Materials

Gold

Techniques

Engraving (incising)

Subjects depicted

Dog (animal); Trees

Categories

Jewellery; Metalwork; Europeana Fashion Project

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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