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Medieval Heraldic Silver Pictorial Signet Ring

Medieval Heraldic Silver Pictorial Signet Ring

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Directory: Antiques: Decorative Art: Jewelry: English: Pre 1837 VR: Item # 1456087
Moylan-Smelkinson/The Spare Room
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P.O. Box 4684
Baltimore, Maryland 21212
tel. 410-435-3738

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At a time when much of the populace was illiterate, medieval signet rings had a very practical function. They were were used as seals for official purposes such as officiating a covenant or contract, communication of a religious pledge, love tokens, or merely to display a monogram. The images are carved intaglio, as opposed to raised; the introduction of sealing wax in the middle ages made intaglio work more common. The intaglio on this ring shows a pair of (likely) female figures holding, upright, under a vallary crown, a large grain stalk that they appear to be in the process of cutting down. The images are flanked by scrollwork possibly representing a stylized dragon. The ring could indicate that the signet belonged to an agrarian landowner or it could have a mythological connection to the Goddess of the harvest, Ceres. As the middle ages continued, signet rings no longer were the bastion of just the well to do; any man with official business could be in possession of a signet ring.