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Three of the rings up for auction.

Gas Engineer’s Large Collection of Ancient Rings May Fetch $130000 at UK Auction

A stunning assemblage of Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Viking, and medieval rings is going up for auction next week. They come from a remarkable ancient rings collection which was once owned by a Leicester gas engineer, who amassed his personal treasure during the 1950s and 1960s.

The rings’ seller may be in for a large windfall, especially if the rings manage to raise the estimated amount of between £80,000 and £100,000 (approximately $105 to $131k) at the auction. The event is to be held at Hansons, in Heage Lane, Etwall, Derbyshire, UK on June 28.

Altogether, the collection includes 54 rings. One of the most interesting of which is a 4th-1st Century BC East Greek Hellenistic gold ring adorned with cabochon garnets. Alone, that ring has an estimated sale price of £3,500-£4,500 ($4,608-$5925).

James Brenchley, of the auction house which will hold the sale, provided some more insight on the timeline of that particular ring, saying:

“This stunning piece of ancient craftsmanship portrays the beauty and elegance the Hellenistic period gave to the ancient world. This period is often referred to as the birthplace of western civilisation. It laid the platform for architecture, art and religious customs. This ring was crafted in the time after the death of Alexander the Great in the context of events such as the wars of the Diadochi, which ended in 275 BC, witnessing the fall of Argead and Antipatrid dynasties; the Cretan war between the Macedonians and alliance led by Rhodes in 221-179 BC and the Ptolemaic period in Egypt where Macedonian Greeks ruled Egypt.”

The East Greek Hellenistic gold ring. ( Hansons/www.pictoriapictures.com)

The rings are being auctioned by the grandson of the gas engineer, who died at the age of 93 in 2003. The grandson did not want himself or his grandfather named, but told the Leicester Mercury about how the collection was formed and why he is selling it:

“My grandfather was an engineer working for the Gas Board when they were first putting gas into houses. He worked all over the country. He was a quiet man and never said if any of the rings were found on site when they were working but I do know he bought many of them at auctions, some up north. After he died, we put the rings away for many years but now we’ve decided to sell them as we’d very much like other people to enjoy them. They are fascinating.”

Some of the Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Viking, and medieval rings up for auction. ( Hansons/www.pictoriapictures.com)

Brenchley told the story of how the owner approached Hansons and the reaction he received upon showing the remarkable ring collection:

“The owner just popped down to one of our free valuation days at our saleroom and we couldn’t believe our eyes. The sheer quantity was incredible. These rings are between 2,200 and 1,800 years old and many are exceptional and extremely rare. Each one is unique and many demonstrate extraordinary craftsmanship. The Roman and Greek rings are particularly spectacular.”

Rings are often very personal and prized possessions, which makes me wonder about the sentimental value they may have held for their original owners so long ago. Perhaps some are examples of ancient Roman engagement or wedding rings ; which served both legal and loving purposes. Or maybe the collection includes some of the open-ended rings which Vikings proudly wore and traded in place of other forms of currency. There may even be rings that once adorned the fingers of powerful Greek warriors . The stories of these many rings are surely priceless.

Roman Key wedding ring. This ring was made of iron and worn by the wife. (Rama/ CC BY SA 2.0 fr )

Roman Key wedding ring. This ring was made of iron and worn by the wife. (Rama/ CC BY SA 2.0 fr )

Top Image: Three of the rings up for auction. Source: Hansons/www.pictoriapictures.com

By Alicia McDermott

Comments

There's a lot of history on this collection of rings, being between 2,200 and 1,800 years old. It will be interesting to see what they will go for at auction.

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