Rare ancient rings dating back centuries sold for more than £30,000 at a special Antiquity Rings Auction.
The total hammer price for the rings - collected as a hobby by a Leicester Gas Board engineer in the late 1950s and 1960s - was £32,535.
The jewellery went under the hammer at Hansons Auctioneers on June 28 with several rings smashing their estimates.
James Brenchley, head of the Ancient Art, Antiquities and Classical Coins department at
Hansons, said: “It’s no surprise that some of these rings did very well at auction as they were extremely rare. How often do you gain the opportunity to buy a piece of jewellery worn by, for example, a wealthy Roman?
“The current owner of the rings just popped down to one of our free valuation days at our saleroom in Etwall, near Derby, and we couldn’t believe our eyes. The sheer quantity was incredible.
“The rings were between 2,200 and 1,800 years old and many were spectacular. This was possibly the biggest collection of ancient rings ever seen outside a museum.
Two rings Mr Brenchley picked out as being exceptional did particularly well. A 4th-1st Century BC East Greek Hellenistic period gold ring with cabochon garnets (lot 20) sold for £3,600.
Meanwhile a Roman gold ring from the 2nd century AD with carnelian intaglio bust of Vibia Sabina, the wife of Emperor Hadrian who built Hadrian’s Wall, sold for £2,100.
In more detail, the star lots were:
Lot 20 - East Greek Hellenistic (4th-1st century BC) gold ring with band composed of strips of twisted wire; the bezel in the form of a large tear drop with oval to the top and two square settings to the side, all with granule decoration to the edge and set with cabochon garnets. Total weight 4.9 grams. Estimate £1,800-£2,000 - sold for £3,600
Lot 3 - Viking (9th-12th century AD) gold ring consisting of bands of wire plaited and widening to the centre; tapering to the plan centre. Total weight 9.7 grams. Estimate £700-£1,000 - sold for £2,500
Lot 18 - Roman (2nd-4th century AD) gold ring with flat band widening at the shoulders, a flat square shaped bezel with oval collar set with red glass. Total weight 5.7 grams. Estimate £800-£1,200 - sold for £2,300
Lot 29 - Roman (2nd-3rd century AD) gold ring with plain band, decorated at the shoulder with a collar; oval bezel with sloping edges decorated with wire wave pattern; to the centre a carnelian. Estimate £1,000-£1,500 - sold for £2,200
Lot 25 - Roman (2nd-3rd century AD) gold ring with ridged band, twisted rope pattern border to the edge, granule beads to the shoulder; oval bezel with sloping sides decorated with ring and dot motif; to the centre a garnet intaglio engraved with the standing figure of Victory (Greek Nike) wearing long robes belted at the waist, arm extended holding wreath, other hand holding a staff, wings to the back. Total weight 5.7 grams. Estimate £1,200-£1,500 - sold for £2,200
Lot 28 - Roman (2nd century AD) gold ring with ribbed band, granule decoration to the shoulder; oval bezel with granule decoration to the edge; a carnelian intaglio engraved with the bust of Vibia Sabina. Estimate £1,200-£1,500) Sold for £2,100.
The rings were sold on June 28 at Hansons Auctions, Heage Lane, Etwall. Items now welcome for Hansons’ Antiquities, Ancient Art and Classic Coins Auction on July 26. The deadline for entries is July 6. To find out more, email [email protected]