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'Papal' ring

Italy

15th century

Bronze ring (gilding now lost), the square bezel set with green paste, the sides with the Evangelists' symbols in relief, a crown and shield of arms at the shoulders and bearing the inscription RAGONAS

18 mm internal ring diameter; 165.5 g weight

Bought in Rome

Presented by Dr C.D.E. Fortnum in honour of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, 1897; WA1897.CDEF.F430

This so-called 'Papal' ring belongs to group of a hundred recorded rings, all of gilt bronze, 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. The arms and inscription on this ring may refer of Alfonso, King of Aragon and Sicily (1416-58).

Taylor & Scarisbrick, Finger Rings from Ancient Egypt to the present day, 1978, no. 461