Stunning Large Italian Renaissance Armorial Signet Ring
This is a superb medieval armorial signet ring, dating to the 14th - 15th century A.D. The ring is made from orichalcum, decorated with niello. The armorial device is deeply cut, depicting a shield bearing arms of 'per pale, dexter or, three bars azure, sinister chequy or and gules'. This relates to the armorial tincture's (visible with a lens and indicative of colours) on the device giving us two arms joined in one, the first with three gold bars and three blue bars, the second chequered with gold and red. The ring feels Italian to me, the use of niello being a mastered art of the Florentine goldsmiths. Having a knowledge of medieval English heraldry is one thing, but Italian heraldry is completely another! As such I am stumped with these arms, thus being sold as unattributed to a family or knight (it will make a great project for the detective in you!)
This ring has prolific decoration on the shoulders, the band bears an inscription. From what I can make out, this is in lombaric-script, likely the names of the three kings 'Jaspar : Melchior : Baltazar'. The names of the magi were effective at preserving one from the 'falling sickness' and fever.
The ring has been well loved, worn and used for a good generation or two. The band is slightly distorted from heavy wear, though intact and in excellent antique condition. It is a dream find for the serious art historian, one that transports us back in time to the Italian Renaissance, of Medici Bankers and Florentine merchants.
OBJECT: Signet Ring
CULTURE: Italian Renaissance
DATE: c. 14th - 15th century A.D.
RING SIZE: 11 1/2 (US) W 3/4 (UK)
SIZE: 26.08mm x 27.94mm x 4.06mm (bezel 16.05mm x 10.54mm x 3.81mm)
PROVENANCE: Ex. Private European Collection