An Antique Ring Dedicated to Philosophical Thought
Posted on June 08 2018
Sometimes when a piece of jewellery 'speaks' to you the message so profound and affecting that it touches you to the core. When we saw this impressive early Victorian ring we instantly wanted to know it's story. Visually there is so much to enjoy; beautifully chased with a deep scrolling foliate design around the whole band and in superb condition. Set with an exquisite hand carved banded Agate cameo of, we were told, Socrates. It has a dedication too; and intriguingly the hand engraved script inside reads; 'Edward Talbot to J E Mace, Gratitude'. We don't know the actual occasion which lead to the giving of the ring. Possibly it was left in the will of Edward Talbot who died in 1869 (aged 64 after 40 yrs as minister of the Chapel in Tenterden, Kent), but it was given as a token of esteem, to show the high regard in which one gentleman of thought held the other.
After a little research it was apparent that both of these gentlemen were involved in Unitarianism, a movement which espoused civil and religious liberty. Furthermore, using our friend google, we found minutes of meetings in 1839 of The Tenterden Juvenile Book Society, an organisation dedicated to encouraging education amongst all strata of society, with the aim to improve living conditions for the poorest in society in an age when children could be sent up chimneys and down mines to earn a living, and prior to the formation of public libraries in England (Public Libraries Act came into force 1850) or the state school system of which the foundations were laid in the 1880 Elementary Education Act. From one of their meetings; 'People of all religious persuasions are invited to share in this social and intellectual festival'.
It is fitting too that the cameo frontispiece is of Socrates the great philosopher, who is considered the founder of moral philosophy. Chosen with care and to convey meaning, we imagine their deep and earnest conversations. Each time gaze upon this ring we are filled with emotion. Their spirit of generosity and goodwill carries down the centuries, an admonition to strive for equality and fairness in this world and a tangible reminder of the warmth and united belief shared by these two men.