Superb 16th Century Spanish Gold Signet Ring Pelican In Her Piety No Reserve
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Superb 16th Century Spanish Gold Signet Ring Pelican In Her Piety No Reserve:
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
Size: 22mm x 19mm x 12mm (bezel) 12mm x 14mm
Date: 16th Century AD or earlier
Material: solid Gold tested around 22 k
This item 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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