2646 NEDI IN Gold Ring

Gold seal ring belonging to George Grenville, sold for £9500 at Noonans.

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When 85-year-old Tom Clark tried out his new metal detector in a pasture field near Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, he couldn’t have expected to return home with valuable items spanning three historical eras.

His first discovery of a Roman bronze coin was remarkable enough, but just three paces further he found a Georgian gilded brooch followed by what looked to be a medieval gold seal ring. In trying to establish the name around the edge, he saw the name ‘Grenvil’ and immediately recognised it as one of the ancestral surnames of the nearby manor house.

Identified as belonging to George Grenville (1712-1770), prime minister between 1763-65, the ring will be offered at Noonans Mayfair on June 11 with an estimate of £6000-8000.

Grenville is partly remembered for trying to reduce Britain’s growing debt by raising revenue in the American colonies with the introduction of the Stamp Act which imposed a tax on all colonial commercial papers. This was strongly opposed by the colonists on the basis of ‘taxation without representation’ and stirred up protests – which ultimately resulted in King George III dismissing him.

This and other acts introduced by Grenville are seen as catalysts to the American Revolutionary War of 1775-83.

“The arms on the bezel of the ring are those of Grenville, of Wotton Underwood and of Stowe in the county of Buckinghamshire,” said Nigel Mills, artefact and coin expert at Noonans. “This is a shield quartered with a central cross bearing five roundels and the helmet placed above the shield has a crest of a sheaf of corn. An inscription around reads Sigillum Georg de grenvil… a truly exciting discovery!”

Metal detectorist Clark added: “I have been detecting since the age of 30, and over the years I have been lucky enough to find a Bronze Age gold armlet, a Roman lead coffin and many other treasures which are now in museums."

This seal ring appears to have been handed down to Grenville’s second son, also named George and later a Member of Parliament for Buckingham, as the find spot is close to the son’s residence near Aylesbury. The ring presumably became a family heirloom passing from father to son and remained hidden in the ground until now.

The ring has been resized with a larger band, with evidence of re-engraving to minor details of the seal. Clark will share the proceeds of the sale with his wife, while the other half will be given to the landowner.