Ring

late 18th century (made)
Ring thumbnail 1
Ring thumbnail 2
Not currently on display at the V&A

Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

The inscription at the back of this ring tells us that it was made to commemorate two people: Ann Norton, who died on 14 November 1768 at the age of 60 and Michael Norton, also 60, who died on 13 February, 1770. Michael was probably Ann's husband.

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. By the end of the 19th century, memorial ring designs were becoming more standardised. The hoops were often inscribed with phrases such as 'In memory' whilst a commemorative inscription could be added to the inside of the hoop. The custom of giving rings as memorials gradually declined in the early 20th century, although the Goldsmiths Journal suggests that some were still being sold in the 1930s.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Engraved gold with a miniature on ivory
Brief Description
Gold mourning ring with a Vesica-shaped Marquise bezel with a miniature on ivory of a woman seated by an urn on a pedestal inscribed REST IN PEACE and inscribed behind Mickl Norton. died 13th Feby.1770. Aged 60. Ann Norton, died 14th Novb 1768. Aged 60., England, late 18th century
Physical Description
Gold mourning ring with a pointed oval bezel painted with a miniature on ivory or bone of a woman seated by an urn on a pedestal inscribed REST IN PEACE. A cherub holding a wreath hovers above the urn. The foliage at the bottom of the painted scene is made of chopped hair. The bezel is inscribed behind Mick I Norton. died 13th Feby.1770. Aged 60. Ann Norton, died 14th Novb 1768. Aged 60.
Dimensions
  • Height: 2.3cm
  • Width: 2.1cm
  • Depth: 2.8cm
Marks and Inscriptions
  • inscribed REST IN PEACE (pedestal)
  • inscribed Mick I Norton. died 13th Feby.1770. Aged 60. Ann Norton, died 14th Novb 1768. Aged 60. (behind;)
  • Unmarked
Object history
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)
Subjects depicted
Summary
The inscription at the back of this ring tells us that it was made to commemorate two people: Ann Norton, who died on 14 November 1768 at the age of 60 and Michael Norton, also 60, who died on 13 February, 1770. Michael was probably Ann's husband.



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. By the end of the 19th century, memorial ring designs were becoming more standardised. The hoops were often inscribed with phrases such as 'In memory' whilst a commemorative inscription could be added to the inside of the hoop. The custom of giving rings as memorials gradually declined in the early 20th century, although the Goldsmiths Journal suggests that some were still being sold in the 1930s.
Bibliographic Reference
Oman, Charles, Catalogue of rings in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1930, reprinted Ipswich, 1993
Collection
Accession Number
905-1888

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 createdApril 25, 2006
Record URL