And I do love thee: therefore, go with me; I'll give thee fairies to attend on thee, And they shall fetch thee jewels from the deep, And sing while thou on pressed flowers dost sleep
- Midsummer Nights Dream
William Shakespeare is arguably the most influential playwright that the British Isles has ever produced. His massive body of work includes at least 38 plays and 150 poems, many of which have been so culturally significant that phrases from them remain in common use to this day. Its hardly surprising that Shakespeares likeness can be readily identified by most people living in the Western world.
This skilfully crafted [seal fob] was created during the Georgian period, which began almost a hundred years after the Bards death in 1616. Intended to press an imprint of Shakespeares profile into the wax used to seal letters, the fobs engraving is inverted to allow the wax imprint to depict a three-dimensional portrait.
Interestingly, whilst there are over 60 portraits which claim to depict Shakespeare, almost none are accepted by historians as being an actual depiction of the man. Only two have been unambiguously identified; one being the bust in Shakespeares funerary monument, and the other being the Droeshout portrait pictured below:
Whether or not the images we have of Shakespeare are true depictions of the man, representations from the Georgian period are in short supply. Many pieces from this time have not survived into the modern day as they succumb to the rigours of time, making this piece even rarer and more interesting.
Carnelian, the stone into which the engraving has been cut, comes from the latin carneus meanly flesh, which describes its soft red colouration. The whole piece has been contained within 18ct yellow gold with the delicate engravings that were common in pieces of this age. This is particularly impressive when one considers that in the Georgian era every piece of jewellery was handmade, without the labour saving presses and processes that began to be used in later years.To take a close look at this piece click here.