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Home > Auctions > 21st February 2023 > Stuart Period Gold Renaissance Memento Mori Signet Ring with C.L. and Skull

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LOT 0336

Estimate
GBP (£) 5,000 - 7,000
EUR (€) 5,660 - 7,920
USD ($) 6,160 - 8,630

Opening Bid
£4,500 (EUR 5,090; USD 5,545) (+bp*)

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Bid History: 0

STUART PERIOD GOLD RENAISSANCE MEMENTO MORI SIGNET RING WITH C.L. AND SKULL
17TH CENTURY A.D.
1 1/8 in. (15.65 grams, 27.14 mm overall, 22.68 mm internal diameter (approximate size British X, USA 11 1/2, Europe 26.29, Japan 25)).

A substantial gold signet ring composed of a lentoid-section hoop, expanding capital style shaped shoulders and irregular octagonal bezel engraved with a skull, two flowers below separating the reversed initials in capitals: 'CL', framed by a beaded border.

PROVENANCE:
Acquired in the 1980s.
Property of a London gentleman.

This lot has been checked against the Interpol Database of stolen works of art and is accompanied by search certificate no.11664-197587.

LITERATURE:
Cf. The Metropolitan Museum, New York, accession number 197587, for a very similar ring dated c.1600 A.D.; cf. The V&A Museum, accession numbers M.272-1962, M.378-1927 and M.273-1962, for broadly comparable examples.

FOOTNOTES:
Signet rings were jewellery items serving practical functions, and were pressed into hot wax to seal letters and packets. Personal seals or secreta acted as a legal safeguard, since they were used to witness wills, loans, commercial, personal and other documents. Such rings were often engraved with a coat of arms, initials, merchant's mark or some other personal symbol. Painted portraits of this period portray the wearer with the signet ring on the thumb or forefinger, allowing for practical use. Skulls on rings were potent symbols of mortality. 'Memento mori' or 'remember that you must die' imagery served as a reminder to the Christian of the need to keep their soul in good order for the final judgment.

CONDITION