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Museum

Signet ring

A gold signet ring, late sixteenth or early seventeenth century, bearing the initials 'W S' intertwined with a lover's knot.

It is thought that this ring, which would have been used to authenticate documents by creating an initialled seal, may have belonged to William Shakespeare. It was found near the churchyard of Stratford-upon-Avon's Holy Trinity Church in 1810 and it is conjectured that Shakespeare may have lost it prior to amending his will in 1616. In the will, the phrase 'whereof I have hereunto put my Seale' was altered by the substitution of the word 'hand' for 'Seale'. It has been suggested that Shakespeare may have lost his ring after the wedding of his daughter Judith at the church in 1616.

The style of the ring is consistent with its supposed date of origin and there were very few other people living in Stratford-upon-Avon at this time with the initials 'W.S.' The 1868 Catalogue description reads as follows: 'Shakespeare's gold signet ring, with the initials, W.S., a true lover's knot entwined between them'.

  • Measurements

  • Width

    19 mm

  • Height

    16 mm

  • Marks & inscriptions

    inscription : : face : initials and lover's knot : W S,

  • Location

    New Place - Exhibition Centre

  • Credit line

    CC-BY-NC-ND Image Courtesy of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust