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CNG Feature Auction 117

Lot nuber 986

ANGLO-SAXON, Mercia. 820-840. AV Ecclesiastical Ring. With symbol and name of St. John the Evangelist.

CNG Feature Auction 117
Lot: 986.
 Estimated: $ 15 000

British, Gold

Sold For $ 15 000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

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ANGLO-SAXON, Mercia. 820-840. AV Ecclesiastical Ring. With symbol and name of St. John the Evangelist. A gold ring with central rondel engraved with head of eagle left (symbol of St John the Evangelist); all within scalloped border. Reverse is inscribed I◊/HANN/I(retrograde Z). Dimensions: 23mm in diameter; weight 4.84g. See J. Linzalone, “A Ring Re-Attributed: Gold Ecclesiastical Ring of 9th Century Anglo-Saxon Mercia,” January 2021 ( Lacking niello inlay otherwise much as made. Displays exquisite craftsmanship typical for Church regalia.

Ex Faire Collection, purchased from Simon Bendall, December 1990 (sold as a Viking ring); acquired by Bendall from and private California collector.

A solid gold ring with central rondel. On the face, an eagle's head faces left in fine style and detail. Surrounding, a border that would have had niello inlay. On the back of the ring, on the rondel face, is inscribed in stylized script IO HANN IS.

The ring, made at the time of Wessex ascendancy and its later alliance with Mercia, offers significant symbolistic reference to John the Apostle, St. John the Evangelist. The eagle, a zoomorphic reference to John, prominently presides as the central figure of the ring. On the reverse, the name, Iohannis is written in script found specifically in Mercia on religious plates and titles in books such as the famed Book of Cerne (please see the Cambridge Digital Library copy of the text, on several full-page illustrated plates and several titles on Introductions of sections of the text), which dates comparatively to 820-840 AD.

The ring is beautifully made and shows care of craftsmanship. That it is made in gold of substantial weight suggests that the owner was wealthy and a significant figure in the early Mercian church, perhaps a bishop. The ring is of significant rarity as well; Anglo-Saxon gold is extremely rare. The ring is attributable to Mercia and to the early Church, and could well have been worn by someone in the court of the scholar and warrior king Alfred the Great, when Wessex and Mercia fought together against the threat of the Viking Great Army.

The final winners of all CNG Feature Auction 117 lots will be determined during the live online sale that will be held on 19-20 May 2021. This lot is in Session 4, which begins 20 May 2021 at 2 PM ET.

Winning bids are subject to a 20% buyer's fee for bids placed on this website and 22.50% for all others.

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