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, like on this particular ring. 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. Phoenixes and birds were common elements of Medieval European heraldry, and the phoenix in particular symbolised resurrection.
Bronze Signet Ring with Winged Creature
A fine late medieval bronze signet ring featuring a hexagonal bezel. Engraved on the bezel is a stylised winged creature, possibly a bird or a phoenix, depicted mid-flight, with its wings and legs outstretched. An incised line fames the imagery and linear and geometric incisions frame the bezel upper part of the ring itself. UK ring size: Q.
Provenance: Formerly in the collection of a gentleman from Essex, UK.
Condition: Extremely fine, suitable for modern wear with care.