Superb 16th Century Spanish Gold Signet Ring Pelican In Her Piety No Reserve For Sale
On offer is this exceptional
medieval or Tudor period gold signet ring with a beautifully cut
seal depicting the "pelican in her piety". She is
standing in her nest, vulning herself (pecking her own breast to
draw blood), three chicks with beaks open are feeding from the
drops of her blood. The detail is very good, with the feathers,
eye and folded wings clear on the impression. The band has an old
solder join, likely from resizing in the past. The shank has bit
of a twist and a few minor scuffs - but is in excellent condition
for an excavated gold ring.
In medieval Europe, the pelican
was thought to be particularly attentive to her young, to the
point of providing her own blood by wounding her own breast when
no other food was available. As a result, the pelican came to
symbolise the Passion of Jesus and the Eucharist, and usurped the
image of the lamb and the flag. A reference to this mythical
characteristic is contained for example in the hymn by Saint
Thomas Aquinas, "Adoro te devote" or "Humbly We
Adore Thee", where in the penultimate verse he describes
Christ as the "loving divine pelican, able to provide
nourishment from his breast".
Pelican! O Jesu Lord!
Unclean I am but cleanse me in Thy Blood of which a single drop,
for sinners spilt,
can purge the entire world from all its guilt."
Elizabeth I of England adopted the
symbol, portraying herself as the "mother of the Church of
England". Nicholas Hilliard painted the Pelican Portrait in
around 1573, now owned by the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool. A
pelican feeding her young is depicted in an oval panel at the
bottom of the title page of the first (1611) edition of the King
James Bible. Earlier Medieval examples of the motif appear in
painted murals, for example that of c. 1350 in the parish church
of Belchamp Walter, Essex.
I have dated this to the 16th
century, though I expect it could be a lot older, the style of
the pelican is similar to that found on 14th century seals. This
ring came from a private collection of early jewellery - please
view our website other rings.
Ring size: (US) 5 1/2 .... (UK) L
22mm x 19mm x 12mm (bezel) 12mm x 14mm
16th Century AD or earlier
solid Gold tested around 22 k
is guaranteed authentic and dates to the period described. A
written guarantee can be provided on request. We accept returns
if you are not satisfied with your purchase.
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Superb 16th Century Spanish Gold Signet Ring Pelican In Her Piety No Reserve: $1,652