Dating to c.1560-1610, this outstanding fob seal represents a highly-rare survival as well as a museum-worthy wearable artifact!
Normally, I would call this a fob seal, but it pre-dates the wearing of pocket watches by over 40 years! This signet seal pendant dates to the Elizabethan age, and has survived the past 425+ years in an immaculate state of preservation! This example comes straight from my private collection of early jewelry, but I have reluctantly decided to "de-access" it for the consideration of my holiday-shopping Ruby Lane clientele!
Measuring 1 1/8" mm tall and 20 mm x 17 mm across the seal, this early pendant seal is cast from sterling-grade silver, and is deeply hand-engraved with a house mark! Signet pendants were an alternative to signet rings, which served the same purpose - to impress one's initials onto melted wax wafers which sealed the correspondence of the age. It is nothing short of a miracle that this example has survived in such pristine condition; clearly it was cherished through the centuries! I have discovered a few of these super-early seals over the past 25+ years, but this is the only silver example, and would have belonged to a gentleman of considerable wealth!
This example is engraved with a house mark. A house mark is a combination the owners initials and numbers which formed a kind of cypher, and one finds them in extant examples of signet rings and seals dating from as early as the Byzantine era, but this style was revived c.1480-1650. In this instance, the mark is the number "4" surmounting the initials "G.H." The capital serif font and deep hand-engraving is similar to that on the Elizabethan gilt brass stamp seal I sold earlier this year (see last photo); it is also the style of serif font one finds engraved on Tudor-era posy rings. The edge of the seal is outlined with an incised cartouche. JUST OUTSTANDING!
The handhold of this seal is gently ribbed at the hand-hold and fluted below; this design is quite reminiscent of the design of silver candlesticks of the period. The surface of the silver is superb; it has made it into the 21st century without damage or pitting, and the patina is delectable! The top of the bail shows expected wear (it takes many centuries for silver to actually wear to this point), but it is still intact and solid, and looks fabulous worn on a silver chain around the neck! As would be expected of a jewel of this great age, it is not hallmarked, but tests to sterling-grade silver.
Weighing in at a substantial 13.54 grams, this pendant seal is suitable for wear by a lady or a gentleman. It could also be worn on a watch chain, and what an amazing history! Normally, I keep these Elizabethan examples for my own collection, but "'tis the season," and I have decided to make it available for my Ruby Lane clientele. As with all of my jewelry pre-dating 1700, this jewel will be sold with a COA and valuation at no extra charge.
If you collect the ultimate in historic seals or jewelry, this example is museum-worthy, and will please the most discerning collector! It would also make the ultimate holiday gift for that special lady or gentleman fascinated with Elizabethan history. It will be shipped in a gift box suitable for storing or giving. I have priced this seal at the bare bones; it is a bargain as well as a highly desirable jewel, so do not miss it - US shipping is FREE!
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