A gold and enamel ring made in memory of Lord Byron after his death in 1824 is set to come under the hammer at Tennants in Leyburn, North Yorkshire, this summer.
Following a spell living in Italy, a disastrous marriage and divorce and a scandalous affair, Byron had gone to fight for Greek independence from the Ottoman Empire, where he died from an infection aged just 36.
The ring will be offered in Tennants’ Summer Fine Art Sale on July 21, with an estimate of £3000-5000.
Tennants says there are only two other known examples of Lord Byron memorial rings of this type, all of which were made by Charles Rawlings of London, and contemporary accounts suggest that these rings were associated with Byron’s family and close friends.
One of the other rings is held in the Pforzheimer Collection in the New York Public Library. The other ring, which was sold at auction in 2013 (see below), contained a lock of Byron’s hair.
The present ring comes by descent, reputedly, from the contents of Newstead Abbey, Byron’s Nottinghamshire home. Byron sold the abbey and its contents to his old school friend, Col Thomas Wildman, in 1818. Wildman subsequently sold the Abbey to William Frederick Webb in 1861.
The ring is composed of 18ct gold, with black enamelling to central plaque which reads Byron under a coronet, and to the outer band on which gold script reads in memory of. Engraved inside the band is Died 19 April 1824, Aged 36.
Tennants’ jewellery specialist, Melanie Saleem, says: “There is always great interest around items associated with Lord Byron, and the rarity, provenance and exceptional condition of this ring is sure to appeal to collectors.”
Sold in East Sussex
A Byron mourning ring of this type sold in February 2013 was part of a collection of 18th and early 19th century mourning rings offered at Gorringes in Lewes.
The high point was provided by the gold and enamel memorial ring marked for GR London 1824, estimated at £400-600. Again, the decoration included a red and white crown above the word Byron and a black enamelled shank inscribed in memory of with an internal glazed panel and inscription died 19 April 1824 at 36.
A collector bought it for £6200.
Byron and Boatswain
The Byron connection also proved profitable at Tennants last year, for a brass, tooth-edge dog collar engraved Rt. Honble Lord Byron. His fondness for his Newfoundland, Boatswain, to whom he erected a monument at Newstead Abbey and wrote his Epitaph To A Dog, is well known.
The provenance for this collar included a 1903 auction catalogue (when it was bought by the Earl of Shrewsbury) and the transcript of a note by the widow of Byron’s gamekeeper at Newstead.
She wrote that the collar was engraved by old Mr Carr of Nottingham and that damage was done by a Bear which Lord Byron kept for his own amusement and with which Boatswain had many severe encounters. Famously, having noted that students were forbidden to bring their dogs to Cambridge, Byron took a bear instead.
What did for Boatswain in the end was being bitten by a rabid dog in 1808 – his collar now in a fitted mahogany display case.
Bought by the vendor for £600 at Sotheby’s in 1976, the collar was estimated at £3000-5000 in the November 18 Leyburn auction and sold to a dealer, thought to be acting for a client, at £14,000.