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It is a funeral ring given to the attendees of the Duke of Wellington state funeral, in 1852. There was a tradition of funeral or mourning jewellery and in Britain there is evidence of memorial rings being used as early as the medieval times. The tradition continued until mid 1900s when Death and how to die well was a preoccupation for the English Gothic Victorians. Rings were often engraved on the inside and made of gold and were decorated with skulls:

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Such items acted as material substitutes for a lost loved one and it wasn’t just rings. Funeral brooches included locks of hair from the departed, delicately pressed under glass.  These physical reminders were carried on the body of living relatives and, quite literally, kept the dead in the world.

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A collection of funeral rings were made for Lord Nelson’s state funeral in 1806 and are very similar to this ring for the Duke of Wellington. One of these rings for Nelson can be seen today at Greenwich Museum in South London and in 2008, another was sold for $25, 000 in a Maritime auction at Bonhams in London:

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Using the photographs provided, Louise Dennis, Jewellery specialist at Mallams Auctioneers, estimated this item to be around £400-£600, considering the small area of enamel loss, as condition is important for collectors.

George Schooling at Sworders Auctioneers, provided a similar auction estimate of around $700-$900.

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