Signet rings were first used as early as ancient times, but became especially popular in Medieval Europe, where they typically bore a family crest or coat of arms, and were used to stamp or ‘sign’ a document. The engraved portion of the ring would be pressed into soft wax or clay, leaving an impression that would identify the owner. The wax or clay seal would then be attached to a document to confirm its authenticity. The engraved imagery was not always a crest, but often a single image that personally identified the owner. The social status of the owner was reflected in the size and media of such seal rings, with the combination of motifs engraved on the bezel providing further insight into the owner’s identity, such as their place in a family. Various types of foliage and plants were common motifs on European heraldry. This ring bears resemblance to walnut tree/branch motif particularly found in some French and Portuguese heraldry.
Bronze Signet Ring with Foliate Motifs
A fine late medieval bronze signet ring with an octagonal bezel. A foliate motif is engraved on the bezel, comprised of a branch rising from a bowl with long, flowing tendrils of leaves bearing flower buds or perhaps fruits or nuts. A geometric frieze of incised lines frames the bezel. The entire ring bears an attractive green patina. UK ring size: S.
Provenance: Formerly in the collection of a gentleman from Essex, UK.
Condition: Very fine, suitable for modern wear with care; natural green patina.