Medieval Rings

les Enluminures
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MEMORIAL RING

England, 1840-5

Gold, engraving, and black enamel

  • 2.500 €
  • £2,200
  • $3,000
  • MEMORIAL RING

    England, 1840-5
    Gold, engraving, and black enamel
    Weight 3.9 gr.; circumference 53.82 mm.; US size 6.75; UK size N 1/2

    In England, the custom of setting aside money for the distribution of rings to friends and loved ones as gifts after death, either to be worn at the funeral or as a memento of the departed was well established by the early seventeenth century.  Mention of such gifts in wills becomes more commonplace and by the mid-Victorian era, a period of great sentiment, memorial and mourning jewelry becomes ever more popular. The range widens to brooches, lockets, and pins with hair motifs or white enamel indicating the deceased was unmarried or black enamel for a married person. Jewelers would have had a range of such jewels in their shops for the client to select from, in this case the ring was made in 1840-1 and the inscription identifies the deceased as William Scurr indicates, who died in 1845, when the ring would have been engraved and then given to a loved one or friend as an everlasting memory.     

    Description:
    The ring is made of a double-layered gold band with scalloped edges and four shield-like openings framed by c-scrolls. Inside the panels is the continuous inscription in gold Gothic lettering over black enamel “In/ Me/mo/ry.”  Inside of the hoop is plain and the inscription reads: “Willm. Scurr Ob. 21 May 1845 aet. 57.” The punched assay marks are those of the maker or company in rectangular form “TD over GD,” the duty mark with head of Queen Victoria, a crown and 18 (quality mark for 18 carat), the leopard’s head (town mark for London) and the date letter for 1840-1. The name of the goldsmith or more likely company is yet to be identified. Small parts of the enamel are missing through wear, but the ring is otherwise in good condition.

    Literature:
    For the history of memorial and mourning rings and a wide selection showing the diversity of designs, cf. Scarisbrick 2007, pp. 160-185, and also Oman 1974, pp. 71 -77.

    Reference number: 533

  • Enamel

    Siliceous substance fusible upon metal, either transparent or opaque and with or without color, but it is usually employed to add decorative color to metal. Enamel can be applied in many different ways, including cloisonné , champlevé , and plique à jour .

    Engraving

    Technique of cutting patterns into a surface with a sharp tool; an impression made from the cut surface shows the design of the incised lines in reverse (hence intaglio).

    Memento Mori

    (Latin: "Think of Death"). A term to describe objects incorporating emblems of mortality, skulls, cadavers, coffins, etc., designed to remind the viewer of the inevitability of death.

  • Later

    It is virtually impossible to do justice to the evolution of jewelry from the Baroque period (c. 1700) to Modern times in a short synopsis, but these are a few highlights. Many of the functional aspects of finger-rings continued: they served for betrothal and marriage, for signing and family identification, for memorial purposes, as well as for pure ornament. However, some new types of rings emerge during this period: such as puzzle rings, gimmick rings, perfume rings, and rings that celebrated scientific achievements (e.g., watch rings) are but a few of the examples.

    This time span witnesses the emergence of the “archaeological style,” of which the work of Fortunato Pio Castellani in the 1830s to 1860s is a particularly well-known example, one that fits in the Neo-Classical period. We see the flourishing of other styles related to artistic movements in painting, sculpture, and architecture. These include Art Nouveau and the Arts and Crafts Movement, both beginning around the 1880s, and Art Deco in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s. It also covers the emergence of some of the most famous twentieth-century houses of jewelry, such as Cartier, Charmet, Boucheron, Bulgari, Tiffany’s, Van Cleef & Arpels, and Mellerio, to mention only a few. Jewelry historians responsible for exhibitions in major museums have begun to trace the historical contributions and characterize the styles of jewelry, including rings, not only of these different artistic movements, but also of these great houses.

    Two other sometimes-overlapping categories of later jewelry are of significant import. The first category, “artist jewelry,” consists of jewelry by artists mostly known for their work in other media, such as Picasso, Calder, Dali, Robert Indiana, Louise Bourgeois, Yves Klein, Anish Kapoor, and many others. The second category, “studio jewelry” includes work by modern and contemporary goldsmiths. Among those practicing today of special mention are Wendy Ramshaw and others belonging to the Goldsmith’s Company in London, dedicated to continuing the craft since it received its first royal charter in 1327. Others of different national origins include the Italian Giovanni Corvaja (handled by Adrian Sassoon in London), the American Joel Arthur Rosenthal or JAR of Paris (whose international exhibition was staged at the Metropolitan Museum in New York in 2013), Otto Jakob of Germany, and the newcomer Wallace Chan of China. The experienced viewer-collector, as well as the newcomer to the field, can begin to learn about modern jewelry at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston with its dedicated jewelry gallery and specialized curator, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London which houses the William and Judith Bollinger Gallery, and the private collection of Alice and Louis Koch.

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MEMORIAL RING

England, 1840-5
Gold, engraving, and black enamel
Weight 3.9 gr.; circumference 53.82 mm.; US size 6.75; UK size N 1/2

USD $3,000

In England, the custom of setting aside money for the distribution of rings to friends and loved ones as gifts after death, either to be worn at the funeral or as a memento of the departed was well established by the early seventeenth century.  Mention of such gifts in wills becomes more commonplace and by the mid-Victorian era, a period of great sentiment, memorial and mourning jewelry becomes ever more popular. The range widens to brooches, lockets, and pins with hair motifs or white enamel indicating the deceased was unmarried or black enamel for a married person. Jewelers would have had a range of such jewels in their shops for the client to select from, in this case the ring was made in 1840-1 and the inscription identifies the deceased as William Scurr indicates, who died in 1845, when the ring would have been engraved and then given to a loved one or friend as an everlasting memory.     

Description:
The ring is made of a double-layered gold band with scalloped edges and four shield-like openings framed by c-scrolls. Inside the panels is the continuous inscription in gold Gothic lettering over black enamel “In/ Me/mo/ry.”  Inside of the hoop is plain and the inscription reads: “Willm. Scurr Ob. 21 May 1845 aet. 57.” The punched assay marks are those of the maker or company in rectangular form “TD over GD,” the duty mark with head of Queen Victoria, a crown and 18 (quality mark for 18 carat), the leopard’s head (town mark for London) and the date letter for 1840-1. The name of the goldsmith or more likely company is yet to be identified. Small parts of the enamel are missing through wear, but the ring is otherwise in good condition.

Literature:
For the history of memorial and mourning rings and a wide selection showing the diversity of designs, cf. Scarisbrick 2007, pp. 160-185, and also Oman 1974, pp. 71 -77.

Reference number: 533

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