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Memento Mori gold ring

The finder of this gold finger ring asked to remain anonymous. It was reported as Treasure and recorded on the Portable Antiquities Scheme database. However, it was eventually disclaimed and returned to the finder, who has now asked for a valuation.

This is known as a memento mori or mourning ring, as it commemorates the death of a loved one. On the exterior is a skull, which is a reminder that everyone eventually dies. The interior is engraved with M. H. L ob 4 Augt 97 aeta 46, which translates as a person with the initials MHL died on the 4th of August of 1697 aged 46.

The ring has an internal diameter of about 20mm, the weight is 2.47 grams and it appears to be in very good condition. A number of similar rings have turned up as detecting finds. They are scarcer than gold posy rings but their association with death is not to everyone’s taste.


If this ring was offered for sale at auction then I would expect the hammer price to be in the region of £1,200 – £1,500. However, my opinion is based upon photographic images of the ring, rather actual sight of it.

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