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Signet ring

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    15th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Engraved silver

  • Museum number:

    771-1871

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

  • Public access description

    Signet rings, engraved with a coat of arms, owner's initial or the mark used by a merchant to identify his goods are one of the most common types of surviving medieval and Renaissance rings. The engraved bezel of the ring was pressed into sealing wax and this was then fixed onto a letter or deed. The bezel of this ring is engraved with a crowned letter 'I', probably the initial of the ring's owner.

    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.

  • Physical description

    Silver signet ring with an octagonal bezel engraved with a crowned I flanked by two branches

  • Marks and inscriptions

    inscribed with a crowned I

  • Dimensions

    Height: 3 cm, Width: 3 cm, Depth: 1.5 cm

  • Object history note

    Given to Edmund Waterton by Major Darell of Cole Hill, ex Waterton Collection

  • Historical context note

    Possibly a religious confraternity ring

  • Descriptive line

    Silver signet ring with an octagonal bezel engraved with a crowned I flanked by two branches, England, 15th century

  • Collection code

    Metalwork Collection