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'Iconographic' ring

England

15th century

Silver-gilt iconographic ring, the fluted bezel engraved with two panels displaying the figures of saints

18 mm internal ring diameter; 7.4 g weight

Harman Oates Collection

Presented by former Keeper, E.T. Leeds, 1939; WA.OA1453

'Iconographic' ring: Termed ‘iconographic’ by Victorian collectors, this group of rings is apparently unique to England. The rings are silver or gold (occasionally latten) and engraved on the bezel or shoulders with devotional images or saints. They came into use in the fourteenth century, lasting until the Reformation and, apparent from many inscriptions, a popular New Year gift. The generally repetitive nature of the group suggests they were more likely made for stock as opposed to individually commissioned. Each saint was believed to protect the wearer against various misadventures.