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Home > Auctions > 21st November 2017 > Tudor Armorial Ring for Johann Ernst I, Related to Anne of Cleves, Wife of King Henry VIII of England

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LOT 0416

Sold for (Inc. bp): £68,200

1 1/4" (31 grams, 30mm overall, 21.11mm internal diameter (approximate size British X, USA 11 1/2, Europe 26.29, Japan 25)).

An important gold and rock crystal signet ring, the property of Johann Ernst, von Sachsen, Julich, Kleve and Berg; the oval bezel inset with painted foil-backed rock crystal heraldic intaglio seal depicting his conjoined coats of arms surmounted with six visored helmet crests comprising: a bull's head, twin horns, mitre cap, jester, griffin and peacock tail representing the Duchies of Kleve-Mark, Thuringen, Sachsen, Meissen, Julich and Berg; with inscription below the arms: v(on) G(ottes) G(naden) Johan Ernst H(erzog) Z(u) S(achsen) J(ulich) C(leve) u(nd) B(erg); the shoulders with black enamel inlaid scroll and foliate decoration extending to fleurs at reverse of bezel.

From an important collection of finger rings; formerly with Christies, South Kensington, London, 9th October 2012, lot 385; previously in the Jürgen Abeler (1933-2010) collection, Wuppertal, Germany; acquired 1960-1981; and thence by descent. Accompanied with geologic report No.TL003157, by geologic consultant Dr R. L. Bonewitz. Accompanied by X-Ray Fluorescence metal analysis certificate 00912-2017TR.

Cf. S. Lambert, The Ring, Design, Past and Present, Royston, Herts, 2020, p.74, pl.3 for similar ring of similar date and origin which is housed in the Imperial Treasure Museum, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna; also Chadour, A.B. Rings. The Alice and Louis Koch Collection, Leeds, 1994, vol.II, p.202, no.659; see Scarisbrick, Diana, Tudor and Jacobean Jewellery, London, 1995, item 22, for a ring made for Sir Thomas Taylor in 1575 AD using the same painted foil under engraved crystal technique.

Johann Ernst, Von Sachsen, Julich, Kleve and Berg (1594-1626) was the great grandson of Sibylle von Julich, Kleve and Berg, sister of Anne of Kleve (Cleves, 1515-1554) wife of Henry VIII, King of England (1491-1547). Born on 21st February 1594, he was the eldest son of Johann II Duke of Saxe-Weimar and Dorothea Maria of Anhalt. His father died on 18th July 1605, leaving the Duchy to his regent. At the age of 14 Johann Ernst began his education at the University of Jena and as part of his studies toured France, Great Britain and The Netherlands. He assumed control of the Duchy in 1615 and in 1620 served under Frederick V Elector Palatine (The Winter King) during the 30 Years War and was present at the Battle of White Mountain on 8th November of that year. Frederick was defeated and, as a result of refusing to submit to his Emperor, Johann Ernst lost his estates and the guardianship of his brothers. He continued to fight the Hapsburgs, seeing action in the Netherlands, Westphalia and Lower Saxony. He later fought for Count Ernst von Mansfield in Hungary and on 6th December 1626 at Sankt Martin he died of wounds received in battle, at the age of 32.

Jürgen Abeler (1933-2010) was born in Wuppertal, Germany, into a family of watchmakers and goldsmiths. Jürgen continued this occupation and was also an avid collector from his earliest years. He began by collecting cigarette cards, stamps, beermats and minerals, but his interest soon extended to watches in 1958 with the opening of the private Wuppertal Watch Museum which was part of the family jewellers and watchmakers business. Over time it demonstrated Jürgen Abeler’s passion for collecting, and his eclectic tastes. There were also collections of crowns and insignia, menus, wine labels and, of course, rings; a total of over 40,000 objects. Abeler’s interest in rings stemmed from his grandmother’s Christmas present in 1955, being Heinz Battke’s recent book on the history of the subject “Geschichte des Ringes in Beschreibung und Bildern”. Battke was primarily an artist, but also an enthusiastic collector of rings. Inspired by Battke, and later to acquire the author’s own collection, Abeler would collect rings from a variety of sources and locations – auctions, antique shops, private hands and foreign lands. The result was a collection ranging from Roman and Egyptian examples to rings highlighting 21st century design. In Abeler’s own words he wished to create “. . . a coherent, comprehensive overview about the whole topic up to (the) modern day.” These rings were displayed at the Deutsches Goldschmiedehaus Hanau from the 9th June to 21st September 2011 in the exhibition Sammlung Abeler, Wuppertal, Geschichte und Symbolik des Ringes aus vier Jahrtausenden – Vom Siegelring zum Liebesring.