Medieval Gold Hart Signet Ring, 15th century
The surname Hart (or le Hart, Harte, Hartman, etc.) is of medieval origin and derives from the frequent use in this period of nicknames that give a punning allusion. The nickname ‘hart’ comes from the pre-7th century ‘heorot’ and would suggest that the bearer is fleet of foot. Such gold rings were most likely not worn directly on the flesh of a finger but rather would have habitually been worn over a leather glove by a member of the nobility and probably reserved for wear on important social or ceremonial occasions.
This is a substantial finger ring with D-section hoop shoulders decorated with diagonal scrolling bands, the concave portions ornamented with five-petaled pansies and foliage, expanding shoulders; the circular bezel bearing the cut signet seal design of a hart (stag) couchant with large antlers, collared and chained with a three-petaled lily with leaves in the field each side, with black letter ‘ht’ monogram below being a punning abbreviation of the name Hart.