INDENTTo date, another signet-ring with the arms of the Vintners'
Company is not recorded and the history of the present ring is unknown. The initials R W could be variously interpreted. They could stand for 'Renter Warden', an important member of the Company who acted as chief financial officer and who, as the name implies, was in receipt of the Company's rents amongst other duties. (The other wardens were known as the corn or swan warden and the upper warden). Another possibility is that the initials stand for Robert Withens, Master of the Company between 1584-1586, or the ring could possibly have belonged to a member of the Vintners' Company at this date whose initials were R W. For further information on the Vintners' Company see A. Crawford, A History of the Vintners' Company (1977).
INDENTThe appearance of goldsmith's initials on a 16th Century ring is unusual but according to Oman op.cit. (1974), p.11 there was a decree in February, 1536 that goldsmiths should put their 'privy marks' on items weighing over three ounces, and although hardly any rings ever weighed this amount 'some of the splendidly solid thumb-ring signets of the late sixteenth century do bear marks, although they were not liable to marking'