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from the archive
GeorgianSkeletal Mourning Ringwith Skull and Cipher

This incredible and very rare memento mori ring was made during the early years of the reign of King George I. This style of mourning ring is known as a skeletal and is made in 18k gold and detailed in black enamel. The hoop features an articulated skeleton, a crossed shovel and scythe, and a tempus fugit (represented as an hour glass) to signify that time is fleeting. The face of the ring is set with a rose cut rock crystal within an oval collet. Beneath the crystal is a faded, but visible, skull and crossbones rendered in white enamel, and the gold wire cipher "RF". This wonderful ring was made in memory of Richard Fountaine, who made his fortune in the mid to late 17th century as a timber merchant. As luck or misfortune would have it, Fountaine was in the right business at the right time to amass great riches. He built his wealth by supplying boards to build the coffins required during the Black Death in which 15% of London's population perished. He was busy in business yet again a year later supplying lumber to rebuild the city after the Great Fire of 1666. Fountaine served as an Alderman of the City of London, and upon his death he bequeathed a great sum of money to build Fountaine's Hospital in Linton (more like a halfway house or shelter in today's language) to house and benefit the poor. The facility is still in operation today in service of the community and in accordance with the terms Fountaine set forth in his will. The interior of the band is engraved "Rich Fountaine Esq 26 Jan 1721 aet 85". This ring is a US 7.5 and cannot be resized.


  • Materials

    18k yellow gold, enamel, rock crystal

  • Age

    c. 1721

  • Condition

    Very good - enamel is worn but present; skull and cipher are somewhat faded but still clear

  • Size

    US 7.5, this ring cannot be resized

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