The increasingly popular hobby of metal detecting has become a key source of fresh material in the antique jewellery and numismatic collecting fields.
A remarkable late 16th century ring offered for sale at TimeLine (27% buyer’s premium inc VAT) in Harwich, Essex, had been found in December 2018 near the River Colne, between Halstead and Hedingham Castle, a tract of land held from the time of the Normans by the de Vere family.
The castle itself was one of the de Veres’ principal seats throughout the medieval period, and was owned in the Elizabethan period by Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford (1550- 1604). Although considered unsuited for any responsible office because of a volatile temper, as a champion jouster and a writer with a talent for love poetry he was a favourite at the court of Gloriana.
A ring such as this, worked to the mount with high-relief scrolled foliage and set with a carnelian intaglio of a classical male bust of Italian workmanship, would certainly fit a man of de Vere’s status. Indeed, it is possible that the portrait is of de Vere himself.
After due ‘treasure trove’ procedure the ‘Hedingham Castle Estate Elizabethan Gold Ring’ came for sale on February 23 with a guide of £15,000-20,000.
It was among the most eagerly contested lots of the day, selling at £46,000.