Is this armorial ring 450 years old? Royalty Nobility?

Discussion in 'Antique Discussion' started by chantaljones, May 17, 2020.

  1. chantaljones

    chantaljones Well-Known Member

    Hi all. I was interested in buying this armorial ring. The seller claims its around 450 years old? He could tell me that it is western but not exactly from which country. He himself is based in the south of France, so I guess maybe its French or surrounding countries?

    The emblems in the shield do seems to have similarities with the coat of arms of the Spanish provinces like Navarra, Leon, Orense. see link

    I do like the way how the family shield looks and planning on maybe buying it for my husband. But I don't want to overpay as he is asking just a bit more than mid three figures.

    My guesses are that because its that old and with such complicated armorial, it must have maybe belonged to nobility or royalty?

    Any ideas maybe?

    Last edited: May 17, 2020
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  2. Bronwen

    Bronwen Well-Known Member

    This time period is way out of my realm, but I find the ring holding the matrix weirdly crude, particularly if all the heraldic devices indicate some noble house. Is it as originally made or is the ring band a later addition? What is the metal supposed to be? What evidence can seller provide of age? Any provenance? Price probably in line with what is being asked for others, if it is as seller represents.
  3. chantaljones

    chantaljones Well-Known Member

    Yes it is a bit crudely done. But it is a small ring. The inside diameter is only 16.5mm which comes down to M or L. And the size of the shield is only 9x9mm small. So a very tiny space to work on. Guess it could have been today in a much cleaner way, but guess they didn't had precision tools back than?.

    He also doesnt seem to know much about it.

    It is made from solid silver.

    No evidence and no provenance.

    Is it a reproduction?

    I also had a look at the design. It doesnt seem to be a seal ring because it the design is not inverted. I found this on internet.

    ''A coat of arms is a heraldic visual design on an, shield, surcoat, or tabard. This was developed in 12th century northern Europe for the purpose of identification in battle and was trough the ages very widely evolved and adopted by kings, princes, knights and other major power holders throughout western Europe.''

    Is it maybe a identification ring which tells other to which house you belong?
    Last edited: May 17, 2020
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  4. daveydempsey

    daveydempsey Moderator Moderator

  5. Bronwen

    Bronwen Well-Known Member

    I doubt it's a reproduction. The question in my mind is whether the entire ring is 16th century or was it cobbled together at a later time? People still used signet rings as seals, which are usually engraved as intaglios in reverse so the impressed image comes out in relief & correctly oriented. This is the opposite: it is cut in relief, so the impression it would make would be in intaglio. On the other hand, the small size is consistent with older ring stones.

    Think I'm with Davey, too much doubt, too many red flags.
  6. antidiem

    antidiem Well-Known Member

    The ring appears to have been made by a technique called "lost wax" (cire perdue) method of construction. While I have no idea what the odd back of the shield is - it looks somewhat fragile back there. The front "slab" of the coat of arms appears to have been cast with a "dent" in the top, looks made that way to me. And it was certainly made with a wiggle at the bottom too..
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  7. Bronwen

    Bronwen Well-Known Member

    I was wondering how it could get dinged in a way that would dent the top edge & push the bottom edge out of line.
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  8. smallaxe

    smallaxe Well-Known Member

    I don't know a lot about these antiquities, so this is an actual question, not rhetorical. If someone was important enough to have an armorial ring, wouldn't they have it made of gold? How common are these in silver?
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  9. chantaljones

    chantaljones Well-Known Member

    That's good to know. Never heard of that casting method before. Im looking at the pictures and I do think the ring is made in one piece. The dent looks genuine to me and not part of the cast. Sorry I should have uploaded all pictures he provided. If you look look closely there seems to be a uneven surface where the area was dented.

    Yes i agree that the wiggle at the bottom is part of the shield. I did manage to find similar design shield which were used in Medieval France and Spain and surrounding. They were used in the 1500s onward.

    Last edited: May 17, 2020
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  10. chantaljones

    chantaljones Well-Known Member

    I did hear one time a story. I was talking to somebody about seal ring as I was planning to buy one for a long time. We came to the subject seal ring of kings and nobility. He told me that a kings seal ring would have 2 to 3 other duplicates. The king would have his ring made in gold and the others like his accountant and other important people would have the exact same ring but than made from silver? Only a few could sign important documents with the kings seal without his permission? Dont know if this is true. But I do know that the person who told me this is very knowledgeable.
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  11. Bronwen

    Bronwen Well-Known Member

    As I said, this is really out of my lane, although tangentially connected to the sort of things I know more about. Age seller gives puts it to the time when the Medieval was giving way to the Renaissance, so I googled signet rings for both periods.

    This is something like yours:

    And this is sort of similar:

    What I notice is that the bands are better made, the matrices (the engraved piece) are better integrated with the rest of the ring, they are intaglios, they occur in various metals. This one is bronze: Bronze Heraldic Seal Ring

    Maybe someone will weigh in who knows more about the social structure of this period, but I can imagine that other family members as well as others connected to the family in important positions might have worn a ring with the family arms on it, not just the lord of the manor. However, if the ring is something like an 18th century fraud, the questions you are asking may be irrelevant.

    I cannot vouch for this seller or the authenticity of what he is selling, but he is offering a number of rings described as being from the Medieval period & earlier that are interesting to see, even though they might be reproductions/fakes:
    Last edited: May 17, 2020
  12. chantaljones

    chantaljones Well-Known Member

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  13. Bronwen

    Bronwen Well-Known Member

    @antidiem If it had been made by this method, would it have needed that seam at the bottom of the shank?
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  14. Bronwen

    Bronwen Well-Known Member

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  15. chantaljones

    chantaljones Well-Known Member

    That was a interesting read. The rings from that area are almost all engraved or very simple designs. This is indeed a bit different. Or is this one also engraved? What do you mean with shield shaped? I thought this ring was also shield shaped. Or do you mean the surrounding ornaments around the shield? The middle square part has the same design as on this ring with the wiggle at the bottom. Am i researching it wrong?

    Bit of a dilemma here. Should I buy it or not. I do know that my husband is looking for ages to buy a ring. I found this one bookmarked on our computer and wanted to surprise him with it. He normally never bookmarks stuff. Maybe its a hint :)
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  16. Hollyblue

    Hollyblue Well-Known Member

    Too many things don't look right. The shank has been sized with an added piece of silver.The shield appears to have been added to the ring or had a sloppy repair with excess solder flowing onto the front of the shield.
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  17. Bronwen

    Bronwen Well-Known Member

    Not quite sure what this means but it looks to me like the ring band was shaped to accommodate the dent that was already in the matrix, not like the dent occurred while the matrix was set in this ring.

    The more I look at it, the less comfortable I am with it.

    You've posted while I've been pondering. The answer to this question is no:

    It looks cast to me. @Hollyblue Do you agree?
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  18. Bronwen

    Bronwen Well-Known Member

    My gut feeling is that this was made deliberately crudely to give the impression of great age in the mistaken belief that rings couldn't be made any better 400 years ago.

    Did your husband bookmark anything else? Do you know if he specifically wants something heraldic? Is it the time period that interests him? Would he just like to have a really old ring? Does he want to be able to wear it?
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  19. Hollyblue

    Hollyblue Well-Known Member

    It looks cast in the photos,but only having it in hand with an experienced person could actually tell.
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  20. chantaljones

    chantaljones Well-Known Member

    Ok I see what you mean. Maybe I should ask the seller to confirm this. Its a biot hard to see on the pictures, its not like having a object hands on. I also had a look again at sellers description.Sorry didnt see this part as it is located in a other area of the site

    ''Old damage/dent to the top of the shield. Dent must happened long time ago because the part of the top square and design is complete worn away. Probably been resized which happens when rings like these get passed on like heirlooms....''
    Last edited: May 17, 2020
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