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'Papal' ring


15th century

Bronze-gilt ring, the stone missing from the square bezel, the hoop with a crowned eagle on one side, the other with a plain shield and triple tiara

21 mm internal ring diameter; 27.4 g weight

Bought in Rome

Presented by Dr C.D.E. Fortnum in honour of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, 1897; WA1897.CDEF.F428

This so-called 'Papal' ring belongs to group of a hundred recorded rings, all of gilt bronze, set with low value pastes or crystals and bearing papal insignia. Their original use is uncertain but it is thought they may have been given as credentials to an envoy sent by a pope to the king. The arms on this ring may refer either to Innocent VIII (1484 92) or Eugenius IV (1431 47).

Taylor & Scarisbrick, Finger Rings from Ancient Egypt to the present day, 1978, no. 460