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Home > Auctions > 24th November 2020 > 'The Fleet' Medieval Gold Iconographic Ring with the Holy Trinity

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LOT 0531

GBP (£) 2,000 - 3,000
EUR (€) 2,200 - 3,300
USD ($) 2,590 - 3,890

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£1,080 (EUR 1,189; USD 1,401) (+bp*)

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'The Fleet' Medieval Gold Iconographic Ring with the Holy Trinity

15th century AD

A solid gold ring with D-section hoop, expanding shoulders with crown of thorns decoration and ellipsoidal bezel; incised Christian religious scene depicting the trinity: at the centre is the crucified Jesus Christ, head slumped to his left; behind and above is God with halo and arms supporting Jesus; either side of God's head at the top are two recessed sub-triangular fields which likely represent wings and thus the Holy Spirit; these wings may once have contained white enamel. 4.60 grams, 20.81mm overall, 17.42mm internal diameter (approximate size British O, USA 7, Europe 14.98, Japan 14) (3/4"). Very fine condition, some wear as used as a 'touch piece'.

Found while searching with a metal detector near Fleet, Lincolnshire, UK, on 12 March 2009; declared as treasure to HM Coroner, Boston, Lincolnshire, with Treasure Act reference number 2009 T140, and subsequently disclaimed; accompanied by copies of the treasure report for HM Coroner, and various other correspondence from Lincolnshire Police and the British Museum, and a copy of the PAS report number LIN-A52493; and an independent specialist report and valuation by graduate gemmologist and jewellery expert Anna Rogers, GIA GG, BA, Gem-A, ref. no.167355/7/10/2020; this lot has been checked against the Interpol Database of stolen works of art and is accompanied by AIAD certificate number no.10225-167355.
Published on the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) with reference number LIN-A52493.
Cf. Chadour, A. B., Rings: The Alice and Louis Koch Collection, Volume I, Leeds, 1994, p.181, for a comparable example and discussion; cf. Oman, C.C., Victoria and Albert Museum Catalogue of Rings, reprinted Ipswich, 1993, items 484, 486, for very similar type; cf. Scarisbrick, D. & Henig, M., Finger Rings from Ancient to Modern, Oxford, 2003, for comparable examples and discussion.
The surface of the ring is worn, suggesting that the bezel scene served as a touch-piece or amulet. Other similar finger rings depict the Holy Spirit as a dove; it is possible that the 'wings' on this example are decorative, and that the dove is worn away. Iconographic rings became popular with the rise of the cult of patron saints in the 15th century. They were often given at weddings and as New Year gifts in England and Scotland. After the Reformation, iconographic jewellery was no longer considered socially acceptable and the type declined in use.