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18K Georgian Portrait Cameo Ring in Sardonyx possibly Ignatius Sancho

18K Georgian Portrait Cameo Ring in Sardonyx possibly Ignatius Sancho

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Directory: Estate Jewelry: Gold: Pre Victorian: Pre 1837 VR: Item # 1476710
Moylan-Smelkinson/The Spare Room
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P.O. Box 4684
Baltimore, Maryland 21212
tel. 410-435-3738

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This is a spectacular one of a kind cameo portrait signet ring collector's item made of an sardonyx, a variety of banded onyx and a form of chalcedony quartz of reddish brown. Portrait cameos were often commissioned by those who had amassed enough wealth to leave their mark on society. The wearer of such a ring would demonstrate admiration for a particular philosopher, writer or popular figure in society. The possession of a ring set with a cameo established the owner of the ring as a person of distinction. Our cameo likely was made in the c1790 in Italy and mounted in its existing gold band somewhat later, perhaps 1800. The hammered gold on the inside of both sides of the band adds a handsome detail to the otherwise polished gold band. Our ring is believed to possibly be a portrait of Ignatius Sancho, an 18th century actor, writer, composer, and British abolitionist who died in 1790. He was brought to England on a slave ship yet managed to secure himself an education and employment in the noble Montagu household, where he gained an extensive knowledge of British literature and music and likely performed at the Montagus’ parties and at gatherings of black servants in Georgian London. Renderings of Ignatius Sancho are included in the photos below. Note on this ring are the finely carved hair and the distinctive facial features. one can understand why cameos were considered a miniature version of sculpture. The ring is a size 11 1/4 US and weighs 18 grams.