The British Museum's collections, £16.99
Diameter: 2.200 cm
Weight: 29.000 g
P&E MLA SL 19
Finger-ring set with the Lord's Prayer
England, AD 1676
This gold ring contains a miniature version of the Lord's Prayer of the Christian faith, written by hand on a tiny disc of paper, less than a centimetre in diameter and set beneath a faceted sliver of rock-crystal. The writer has also managed to fit in his signature: 'William Mason Writing Master in the Minories, April 2, Anno Domini, 1676'. Designed to demonstrate the astonishing skill of the calligrapher, it can barely be deciphered without the aid of magnification. Miniature writing samples such as this can be seen as characteristic of seventeenth-century interest in scientific experiment and technical virtuosity.
The ring itself
is a fine example of late seventeenth-century
Such a ring had more than curiosity value for its wearer. Religious inscriptions were often held to protect against misfortune. Sloane owned many other rings with amuletic or healing properties, such as 'a dog fish tooth for the cramp'. The saints were also invoked for protection: one of Sloane's rings depicted St Anthony Abbot who preserved against the pest.
O.M. Dalton, Catalogue of the finger rings, (London, British Museum, 1912)