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mourning-ring

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    AF.1524

  • Description

    Mourning-ring; enamelled gold, the hoop enamelled white, in the form of two skeletons supporting a coffin-shaped bezel with moveable lid (now separate) fastened with a pin (now missing) and ornamented with a Maltese cross once enamelled red, on a black ground with hearts reserved in the metal, an enamelled cinquefoil at one end. Inside the coffin is a tiny white-enamelled skeleton. At the back of the bezel ares two clasped hands. No maker's mark.

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  • Date

    • 17thC
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Diameter: 0.84 inches
    • Length: 0.4 inches (bezel)
    • Weight: 93 grains
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

        maker's mark
      • Inscription Content

        none
  • Curator's comments

    Text from Dalton 1912, Catalogue of Finger Rings:
    'the clasped hands, usually a feature of love-rings (see nos. 1002ff.), should be noticed. It is not easy to say whether this ring should be regarded as a mourning-ring in the usual sense of the word, or whether it had a devotional purpose'.

    For a closely related ring see Chadour 1994 no 720.
    Not found in Londesborough Collection catalogue.

    Text from Ward, Cherry et al, 'The Ring from Antiquity to the Twentieth Century,' London 1981, pl.206.
    This is an unusually specific memnto-mori ring: the bezel is in the form of a coffin containing a skeleton; the shoulders are formed of skeletons and the back of the hoop of clasped hands. The ring belongs to the group of coffin jewels that contain minutely detailed skeletons and date from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Designs for the external decoration of the coffins in Moresque style can be found in mid sixteenth century German pattern books, notably among the large number of jeweller's and silversmith's patterns engraved by Virgil Solis of Nuremberg in the 1560s. The combination of the symbols of love and death was not uncommon at this period, as we shall see (Pl. 208).

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  • Bibliography

    • Ward et al 1981 bibliographic details
    • Dalton 1912 1453 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Exhibition history

    Exhibited:
    2005-2006 25 Jul-13 Jan, Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery, Buried Treasure: Finding Our Past
    2005 12 Feb-26 Jun, Newcastle, Hancock Museum, Buried Treasure: Finding Our Past
    2004-2005 1 Oct-15 Jan, Manchester Museum, Buried Treasure: Finding Our Past
    2004 30 Apr-21 Sep, Cardiff, National Museums & Galleries of Wales, Buried Treasure: Finding Our Past
    2003-2004 21 Nov-14 Mar, London, BM, Buried Treasure: Finding Our Past

  • Condition

    Pin now missing; lid now separate.

  • Subjects

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1897

  • Department

    Britain, Europe and Prehistory

  • Registration number

    AF.1524


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Object reference number: MCN8894

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