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Ring

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    late 18th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Engraved gold with a miniature painted with chopped hair and brown pigment on an ivory ground

  • Museum number:

    872-1888

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

From the early seventeenth to the end of the nineteenth century, testators left money in their wills to have rings with commemorative inscriptions made and distributed to their friends and families. Simple bands enamelled with the name and life dates of the deceased were frequently made, sometimes set with a gemstone or a bezel set with a rock crystal covering a symbol such as a coffin or initials in gold wire. In the later 18th century, rings followed neo-classical designs, their oval bezels often decorated with the same designs as funerary monuments such as urns, broken pillars and mourning figures. Hair from the deceased was incorporated into the designs or set in a compartment at the back of the ring to give each jewel a uniquely personal element. Black or white enamel were favoured though white enamel was often, though not universally used to commemorate children and unmarried adults.

The inscription on the back of the bezel tells us that the ring commemorates John Amey who died in 1791. Amey was the Master of the London and Greenwich packets, the ships which carried passengers and post up and down the river. His death was recorded in the 'New Lady's Magazine' of April 1791: 'At Berwick-upon-Tweed, in the 64th year of his age, Mr John Amey of Greenwich, many years Master of the London and Berwick packets.'

Physical description

Gold mourning ring with a marquise bezel with a miniature of a weeping willow and an urn on a pedestal inscribed SACRED TO LOVE and behind with Ino. Amey Ob 18 Mar 1791 Aet 64..
The miniature is made from finely chopped human hair in a brown pigment painted onto ivory.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)

Date

late 18th century (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Engraved gold with a miniature painted with chopped hair and brown pigment on an ivory ground

Marks and inscriptions

'SACRED TO LOVE'
inscription

'Ino. Amey Ob 18 Mar 1791 Aet 64.'
John Amey died on 18 March 1791 aged 64
inscription recording the death of John Amey, Master of the Greenwich and London Packets, who died at Berwick-on-Tweed

'IP'
Maker's mark

Unmarked

Dimensions

Height: 2.5 cm, Width: 2.2 cm, Depth: 3.3 cm

Object history note

Part of a group of memorial and mourning jewels bought from Dr Marco Guastalla, acting on behalf of 'an English lady residing in Italy' (museum numbers 846-1888 to 989-1888)

Descriptive line

Gold mourning ring with a marquise bezel with a miniature of a weeping willow and an urn on a pedestal inscribed SACRED TO LOVE and behind with Ino. Amey Ob 18 Mar 1791 Aet 64., Britain, late 18th century

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Oman, Charles, Catalogue of rings in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1930, reprinted Ipswich, 1993, cat. 875.

Materials

Gold; Ivory; Human hair

Techniques

Engraving

Subjects depicted

Willow tree; Mourning; Pedestals; Urns; Miniatures (paintings); Women; Death

Categories

Jewellery; Metalwork; Death; Europeana Fashion Project

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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