• Jewellery auction at Christies

    Sale 6968


    9 October 2012, London, South Kensington

  • Lot 335

    A 15th century Burgundian gold signet ring

    Price Realised  


    A 15th century Burgundian gold signet ring
    The octagonal bezel engraved with a fleur-de-lys in the centre with the initial M above in Lombardic script, with indistinct motto below within a pearled border, the shoulders engraved with a black letter inscription in old French tout e loial (always loyal) with star and floral divisions, the channelled shoulders with foliate sprig decoration, circa 1470

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    Private collection, Germany; acquired 1960-1981, and thence by descent to the present owner.

    Saleroom Notice

    Please note that this lot will require an export licence if it is to be exported outside the E.U.


    Cf. M. Dalton, op.cit., nos. 420-421 for bronze and silver examples showing similar construction. Also C. Oman op.cit. p.41, B. also D. Scarisbrick, op.cit., p.30 in which she states that this type of signet ring was usually made of bronze, and silver and gold examples are rare.

    Post Lot Text

    This ring possibly dates from around the time of the Burgundian Wars 1474-1477. This was a conflict between the Dukes of Burgundy and the Kings of France. War broke out in 1474 and during the campaign the Duke of Burgundy, Charles the Bold was defeated three times on the battlefield by the army of Louis XI, the King of France and killed at the Battle of Nancy in 1477. The Duchy of Burgundy became part of France and the Burgundian Netherlands and the Franche-Compte were inherited by Charles's daughter Mary of Burgundy, and eventually passed to the House of Habsburg.
    A ring of this type would have been for someone of high status and the inscription on the shoulders may have refered to their support of either side.