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Elizabethan intaglio ring featuring Edward de Vere. An important gold ring set with an oval carnelian intaglio in the Italian style featuring a bearded male in profile, thought to be Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, in the manner of a Roman Emperor, with ornate foliate and scrolled carving to the gallery and trumpeting shoulders, flowing through to a solid D-shape shank. Tested yellow gold, approximately 11.9 grams in weight, circa 1575, accompanied by documentation from the Portable Antiquities Scheme stating that this ring was found whilst metal detecting pasture land in the Halstead area of Essex. It is recorded with the Portable Antiquities Scheme under reference #ESS-A69E73. This ring showcases the finest level of craftsmanship and is in museum quality condition.
This ring was discovered in Halstead, Essex in 2018, near Hedingham Castle, the ancestral home of the Earls of Oxford. This ring is thought to have been commissioned for and owned by Edward de Vere, due to its unsurpassed quality for the period.
Edward de Vere (1550-1604), became the 17th Earl of Oxford and Lord Great Chamberlain at the age of 12 upon the death of his father. After becoming a ward of Queen Elizabeth I, he was raised in the household of William Cecil (later Lord Burghley), the Queen’s Secretary of State, whose daughter he married in 1571. De Vere spent much time in Europe, in particular the Italian states, where this ring is thought to have been created. Throughout his lifetime, de Vere was embroiled in many plots and scandals, and extravagant spending led to much financial distress. Despite this, he remained a favourite courtier of Queen Elizabeth I. He was known throughout the court for his poetry and was patron of the arts, including writers, musicians and actors.
It has since been suggested that de Vere was using the pseudonym 'Shakespeare' to write plays and poems, as this was a profession that was looked down upon for someone in his position. Some of the evidence for this theory includes many instances in the plays that mirror events and people in his life. This is known as the 'Oxfordian theory of Shakespeare authorship' which is still debated today.