News & Insights

Rare memorial ring for Lord Byron heads for auction

21st May 2018.

A very rare gold and enamel ring made in memory of Lord Byron after his death in 1824 is set to come under the hammer at Tennants Auctioneers, North Yorkshire this summer.

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; 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, 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 18 carat 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’.

Lord Byron – the notorious poet, peer and politician – was the subject of cult-like worship amongst the English upper classes. Known for his aristocratic eccentricities and excesses, the Romantic poet rose to fame after the publication of ‘Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage’ – the poetic tale of a young aristocrat’s travels in Europe. Following a spell living in Italy, a disastrous marriage and divorce and a scandalous affair, Byron went to fight for Greek independence from the Ottoman Empire, where he died from an infection aged just 36.

Tennants’ Jewellery Specialist, Melanie Saleem says of the ring, ‘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’. The ring will be sold in Tennants’ Summer Fine Art Sale, with an estimate of £3,000-5,000 plus buyer’s premium.

A fully illustrated catalogue will be available at leading up to the sale. Further entries are now invited for the Summer Fine Art Sale, and to enquire about entering items for sale please contact the salerooms on 01969 623780.

Illustrated: A Rare 18 carat gold enamel Memorial Ring for Lord Byron: Estimate - £3,000-5,000 plus premium

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