Alan wrote in with a question he has about a signet ring his family has in their possession.
the whole family is confused by the ring crest on the ring below:
Any help with finding out the owner would be gratefully accepted.
Thank you for writing in Alan, it is fun to play detective on some of these items, and maybe someday I’ll be so lucky as to get an item that has a coat of arms I recognize.
First a couple questions for you:
- Do you know how long this ring has been with your family?
- Do you know what its nation of origin might be?
Those would be two big hints to narrowing down who it might have belonged to, but absent that information, I’ll use what I have available to give you some ideas.
What you have here is a signet ring which is used for making an impression of a coat of arms into wax. The term crest is a modern misnomer — the crest portion of the coat of arms is the bit which sits atop the shield and is missing in this version of the arms.
The first thing we can do it translate what we see on the ring to what a regular coat of arms would look like.
Signet rings, as I mentioned earlier, are made to make an impression in wax, so they are necessarily a reverse image of the proper arms; they will also lack the color we are used to seeing in contemporary heraldry. To deal with the lack of color, traditional armorists came with the ingenious solution of using different shading patterns to represent the colors found in armory. The open clear spaces are taken to be argent or white, the fully shaded areas sable or black and the part in the middle with the vertical shading pattern is gules or red.
This is what the coat of arms would look like in a conventional emblazon:
I looked through the armories I have access to and did not find an exact match. My sources are far from exhaustive though, and limited mostly to British Arms. That said, it is important to realize that heraldry worked its way into being a form of folk art a long time ago — it is possible that this actually isn’t anyone’s official coat of arms, this is especially true if your family is from the United States where there has been no regulation of coats armor since the Revolution and was likely little enforced even before that.
I did however find several coats of arms which were close in design. This can sometimes indicate a family connection to the bearer of the other arms. Absent any other leads, I would check your family’s genealogy and see if you are related to any of these people:
John Abell moved to New York from Essex in the late 19th century. His coat of arms was blazoned: Argent, a fess purpure, between three boars’ heads couped gules.
The arms of Allardyce of Dunninald (Scotland) also have a similarity. These arms are blazoned: Argent a fess wavy gules between three boars’ heads erased sable, within a bordure of the second.
Finally, the family Wroughton is mentioned in the Church of St. Peter, Northhampton (England) bearing the arms: Argent a chevron gules between three boars’ heads couped sable.
I hope this information helps you toward discovering the story behind your ring. I will let you know if I run across anything additional.
If any other readers know anything about this coat of arms, please share with us in the comments.
Originally posted 2012-08-18 08:56:35.