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'Papal' ring

Italy

15th century

Bronze-gilt ring, the bezel set with a pink-foiled crystal, the hoop with a relief of a demi-lion on either side, between which was the emblem of an evangelist (now lost). On one side is the papal tiara and the angel of St Matthew, on the other the crossed keys of St John

27 mm internal ring diameter; 122.2 g weight

Bought in Rome

Presented by Dr C.D.E. Fortnum in honour of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, 1897; WA1897.CDEF.F429

This so-called 'Papal' ring belongs to group of a hundred recorded rings, all of gilt bronze and set with low value pastes or crystals and bearing papal insignia. Their original use is uncertain but it is thought they may have been given as credentials to an envoy sent by a pope to the king. This ring bears the papal insignia of Pius II (1458 64).

Taylor & Scarisbrick, Finger Rings from Ancient Egypt to the present day, 1978, no. 463