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Home > Auctions > 24th November 2020 > King James I's Personal Hawking Ring

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LOT 0553

GBP (£) 4,000 - 6,000
EUR (€) 4,410 - 6,610
USD ($) 5,190 - 7,780

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£4,000 (EUR 4,405; USD 5,189) (+bp*)

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King James I's Personal Hawking Ring

1603-1625 AD

A silver vervel or hawking ring used during falconry, comprising a flat-section hoop with legend in italic script 'Kyng James', and a waisted heater shield with quartered arms of the Stuart kings; the arms displayed are the royal arms used by the Stuarts (outside of Scotland) from the accession of James I to the British throne in 1603. 0.84 grams, 10.36mm (1/2"). Fine condition; edge of shield bent. An excessively rare ring, the personal possession of an important British monarch.

Found while searching with a metal detector near Angmering, West Sussex, UK, on 8 November 2016; declared under the treasure act under reference number 2017 T10, subsequently valued at £4,000-£4,500, but disclaimed as no museum was in a position to acquire it; accompanied by a copy of the treasure report for H M Coroner, the official provisional valuation, letters from the British Museum, and a copy of the Portable Antiquities report number SUSS-D17951; this lot has been checked against the Interpol Database of stolen works of art and is accompanied by AIAD certificate number no.10233-167384.
James Charles Stuart was born 19th June 1566 and died 27th March 1625. He was King of Scotland, reigning as James VI from 24 July 1567. He later became King of England and Ireland, reigning as James I with the union of the Scottish and English crowns on 24 March 1603 until his death.

Falconry was a popular sport of the nobility and gentry in the Tudor and Stuart periods, and there were strict rules concerning the social classes and the types of bird appropriate to each, documented in various books on hunting, hawking, fishing and heraldry.

A hawking ring or vervel formed part of the equipment of a hunting bird, where it was attached to the jesses around the bird's feet. It probably allowed a sturdy leather leash to be connected to the jesses and the block or perch. Many known examples are made in silver, usually with the owner's name or initials engraved on the hoop. Rare examples feature an attached heraldic shield, as in the present case, which demonstrate clearly the aristocratic status of the owner.

The Boke of St. Albans, printed in 1486, offers a seriation of bird-types appropriate to the various social classes, e.g. Ther is a Gerfawken. A Tercell of a gerfawken. And theys belong to a Kyng..... Ther is a Spare Hawke, and he is an hawke for a prest. (There is a gyrfalcon. A tercel [male] of a gyrfalcon. And these belong to a King..... There is a sparrowhawk and he is a hawk for a priest.)