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This is a medieval magical amulet ring, dating to the 14th - 15th century. The ring is entirely inscribed on the outer band with the names of the three kings or magi, Caspar, Melchiar & Baltasar. The bezel is designed as a cross crosslet, the background filled with niello enamel. The lettering would have also been raised above black enamel (niello), giving a clearer reading of the inscription. This ring appears to be made of gold, although the alloy used is a type of brass in use in Nuremberg. The ring was likely lost in a river, with the silts preserving the metal in anaerobic conditions.
The names of the Three Kings were thought to be especially efficacious against epilepsy and fever; their popularity owed much to that of the Shrine of the Three Kings at Cologne. The names are found engraved on both rings and brooches.
Text from Dalton 1912, Catalogue of Finger Rings
The names of the Magi, or Three Kings, do not occur in the Canonical or Apochryphal Gospels; it has been suggested that they may be of Mithraic origin, and that they may be borrowed from titles of Mithras as 'the White One', 'the King of Light', 'the Lord of Treasures' (C.W. King, Arch. Journ. xxvi, p. 234). They were supposed to be of especial efficacy against falling sickness, though the Stockholm MS. (see under no. 866) includes them in a long charm against fever (Archaeologia, xxx, p. 400).
OBJECT: Amulet Ring
DATE: c. 1350 - 1450 A.D.
MATERIAL: Brass & Niello
RING SIZE: 10 (US) T 1/2 (UK)
SIZE: 22mm x 20mm 3mm (bezel 10mm x 9mm)
WEIGHT: 1.1 grams
PROVENANCE: Ex. European Private Collection, Munich.