Signet Ring thumbnail 1
Signet Ring thumbnail 2
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Jewellery, Rooms 91, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery

Signet Ring

1600-1650 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

A seal or signet ring was used to apply the wearer's personal mark to the sealing wax on a document. The seal then denoted the legality of the document and the identification of the issuing authority or individual. The ring could be engraved with a coat of arms, if the owner was entitled to use one, or with a personal initial, a merchant's mark. The design on this ring shows the letters A and R, with a raised hand between them. The hand may be a personal device or perhaps form part of a rebus on the owner's name, possibly Palmer?

This ring forms part of a collection of 760 rings and engraved gems from the collection of Edmund Waterton (1830-87). Waterton was one of the foremost ring collectors of the nineteenth century and was the author of several articles on rings, a book on English devotion to the Virgin Mary and an unfinished catalogue of his collection (the manuscript is now the National Art Library). Waterton was noted for his extravagance and financial troubles caused him to place his collection in pawn with the London jeweller Robert Phillips. When he was unable to repay the loan, Phillips offered to sell the collection to the Museum and it was acquired in 1871. A small group of rings which Waterton had held back were acquired in 1899.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Engraved gold
Brief Description
Gold signet ring, the oval bezel engraved with a hand between the letters A and R, made in England, 1600-1650.
Physical Description
Gold signet ring, the oval bezel engraved with a hand between the letters A and R.
Dimensions
  • Height: 2.3cm
  • Width: 2.5cm
  • Depth: 1.6cm
Marks and Inscriptions
A hand between the letters A and R. (Engraved on the bezel.)
Object history
ex Waterton Collection
Subject depicted
Summary
A seal or signet ring was used to apply the wearer's personal mark to the sealing wax on a document. The seal then denoted the legality of the document and the identification of the issuing authority or individual. The ring could be engraved with a coat of arms, if the owner was entitled to use one, or with a personal initial, a merchant's mark. The design on this ring shows the letters A and R, with a raised hand between them. The hand may be a personal device or perhaps form part of a rebus on the owner's name, possibly Palmer?



This ring forms part of a collection of 760 rings and engraved gems from the collection of Edmund Waterton (1830-87). Waterton was one of the foremost ring collectors of the nineteenth century and was the author of several articles on rings, a book on English devotion to the Virgin Mary and an unfinished catalogue of his collection (the manuscript is now the National Art Library). Waterton was noted for his extravagance and financial troubles caused him to place his collection in pawn with the London jeweller Robert Phillips. When he was unable to repay the loan, Phillips offered to sell the collection to the Museum and it was acquired in 1871. A small group of rings which Waterton had held back were acquired in 1899.
Bibliographic References
  • Oman, Charles, Catalogue of rings in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1930, reprinted Ipswich, 1993, p. 95, cat. 570
  • Bury, Shirley, Jewellery Gallery Summary Catalogue (Victoria and Albert Museum, 1982), 33/I/8
Collection
Accession Number
738-1871

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record createdNovember 25, 2005
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