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English, circa 1300, Signet Ring. Photo courtesy Sotheby's

the gold inscribed in Lombardic script: Amor Vincit Omnia (love conquers all), the intaglio carved with an eagle bearing a laurel wreath in its beak gold, set with a Roman, 1st/ 2nd century AD, onyx agate nicolo intaglio; inside diameter: 1.8cm., ¾in. Estimate 5,000-7,000 GBP

PROVENANCE: with H. Ulreich Juwelier, Frankfurt, 1964

NOTE: Martin Henig (op. cit.) discusses the medieval elite's fascination for ancient gems to serve as a sigilum secreta and the manner in which such seals were subtly re-interpretated by the intelligentsia. In the ring offered here, the emblem ofVictory embodied in the Roman intaglio has in fact been ingeniously interpreted and reflected in the accompanying inscription. Martin Henig emphasises the status of such ancient seals, which were given equal value to their gold or silver settings, during the medieval period, in citing a Statute of Edward I dated to 1300 ordering that 'gravers or cutters of stones, and of seals shall give to each their weight of silver and gold, as near as they can, upon their fidelity'. The latin phrase on the present ring appears on two further medieval rings in the British Museum illustrated by Dalton (op.cit. nos. 960, 960a). Dalton also notes that the same motto appears on the brooch worn by the Prioress in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.

RELATED LITERATURE: O.M. Dalton, The Franks Bequest, Catalogue of the Finger Rings, London, 1912, pl. 37 A-E; C. Oman, British Rings.
800-1914, London, 1974, no.218; M. Henig, 'The re-use and copying of ancient intaglios set in Medieval personal seals mainly found in England: an aspect of the Renaissance of the 12th century', J. Cherry and J. Robinson (eds.), Good Impressions: image and authority in medieval seals, London, 2007, pp. 25-34

Sotheby's. European Sculpture & Works of Art: Medieval to Modern. London | 02 juil. 2013 www.sothebys.com