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Home > Auctions > 21st February 2017 > Medieval Gold 'CRUCEM CHRISTI GERO' Iconographic Glove Ring

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LOT 0449

Sold for (Inc. bp): £44,640

1 1/4" (21 grams, 30mm overall, 23.36mm internal diameter (approximate size British Z+3 1/2, USA 14, Europe 33.29, Japan 32)).

A large facetted D-section gold hoop with expanding shoulders, ridged rectangular bezel; pentagonal panel to one shoulder with radiating strokes beneath, reserved image of crowned and nimbate Virgin Mary with nimbate infant Jesus; similar panel to the other shoulder, reserved Calvary scene with Corpus Christi and nimbate winged head above; left panel of bezel with reserved image of nimbate S. Peter holding a key; right panel with similar image of St. Paul with book and drawn sword; to the inner face engraved legend in Lombard script '*Crucem.Christi.Gero*' (I bear the cross of Christ).

From an important jewellery collection; by descent through the Smigielski family; formerly with the current owner's grandfather Franz Retyk; acquired in Europe by her father or his brother in Belgium during the 1920s. Accompanied by a positive X-Ray Fluorescence metal analysis certificate.

Accompanied by an Art Loss Register certificate.

Cf. Oman, C.C. British Rings 800-1914 London, 1974, plate 22(D); Dalton, O.M. The Franks Bequest Catalogue of Finger Rings, London, 1912, item 753 for type.

Iconographic rings appear to be English in origin and originate in the late fourteenth century and continue into the fifteenth century, losing favour under the Reformation of Henry VIII. Iconographic rings are mostly religious in their subject matter with the most popular saints depicted on them being St Christopher and St Catherine, both of whom had important cults in medieval England and offered protection and intercession to the wearer. Other popular images included the Virgin Mary and, as on this ring, the Crucifixion. Some bear inscriptions that are either religious in nature, and therefore could have acted as prayer rings for personal devotion, or which sometimes have messages of love and therefore could have been given as love tokens and which underscores the the gift giving aspect of small scale jewellery. There are contemporary literary references to the rings being given as gifts, particularly at New Year, to protect the wearer, and many as such are inscribed with these sentiments.