The central carved white enamel skull to a polished gold bezel with black enamel motto 'watch thy houre cometh', raised on polished shoulders, to the tapering hoop, circa 1610, ring size I
Purchased from Thomas M. Whitehead, 8 Duke St., St. James’s, November 1864, ‘A fine cinque cento enamelled gold ring with the skull and cross bones’ (£18), by Sir Henry Hope Edwardes, Wootton Hall, Derbyshire and by descent to
Lt. Col. Herbert James Hope-Edwardes, Netley Hall, Shropshire, and by descent to
Lady More (née Hope-Edwardes formerly, Coldwell), Netley Hall, and subsequently Linley Hall, Shropshire, and by descent.
Taylor, Gerald, Scarisbrick, Diana Finger Rings From Ancient Egypt to the Present Day, The Ashmolean Museum, 1978, pg.78, pl.749 for a similar Memento Mori ring with central death’s head and engraving to the bezel (early 17th century) and for two later 17th century examples pl.721-722 each with carved white enamel skull and cross-bones motifs

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Katharine Cooke
Katharine Cooke

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Lot Essay

Mortality rates were high in the sixteenth and seventeenth century due to war, plague and famine and Memento Mori rings, such as this example, were intended to remind the wearer of their mortal state. 

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