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Massive Silver Merchant Ring

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Merchant rings have a fascinating history dating back to about the 14th century. They were distinctive seals and marks that were identified with guilds or specific professions. These insignias were then cast, chased or engraved into a ring. Usually worn by those not entitled to wear a coat of arms, these seals were most often associated with businesses and trades. Many trades wielded great power not unlike many of our modern day trade unions.

Most often worn as rings, the bearer was then immediately recognized, as well as having the dual purpose of "signing" important letters and documents. Hot wax was dripped onto parchment and the insignia was then impressed into the molten substance. Rings of this type flourished during the 16th century and some were still in use in the 17th century.

At the top the imagery symbolizes the “Agnus Dei” or lamb of God, and on each side the initials "C” and “M" appear. Beneath is a crest of the head of a horned bull or steer flanked by scrolls. On the shoulders are fluted columns and a type of head or gargoyle with reeded banding underneath. Certainly this must relate to the livestock or butcher's trade.

Naive workmanship with a wonderful character and feel, it is of solid cast construction.

+ Measurements, Condition & More

Measurements: 11/16 of an inch (1.7 cm) in width by 13/16 of an inch (2 cm) in height and rises 1/4 of an inch (0.7 cm) off the finger.

Ring Size: US 8-1/4 (UK Q; Euro 18.5; 58 mm)and can be sized to fit most. Ring sizing information.

Condition: Good; a bit of wear to the top with some surface scratches (now worn smooth) and overall wear inside and out; some softening of the imagery on sides; evidence of old sizing. Weight of 25 grams.

Date: 18th or early 19th century version of an earlier ring.

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Layaway information and for full details see Payment Methods.

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