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Rings Of The Ancients

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Looking at the exhibition of modern finger rings, the old timer is forcibly struck by the fact that, whereas in the good old days the decorative art and design were almost wholly expended on the gold band itself, modern jewelers conñned themselves almost exclusively to combinations of valuable stones. It is a very ungrateful task to spoil a romance, but cold truth compels the admission that this is a practical age, which looks largely to the matter of convertibility in rings, watches and valuable presen ts. Actors and actresses on their travels are seldom seen without a diamond pin, brooch, neclclace or solitaire ring, because these articles represent a condensation of inoney in small balk and preciable forin. The finest workman8hip on the gold itself goes for nothing. It is simply "oíd gold"- sold by weight It was very different in "the days of old," though there were plenty of precions stones available if they had been needed. The Pharaohs and their statesmen, the princesses of Egypt and their favored atter.dants, undoubtedly wore rings, for quite a number of mummies have been í'ound with a dozen finger rings liberally distributed on the eight fingers, besides the indispensable thumb rings. For it is a singular fact that for hundreds of years after the Christian era the cnstom still prevailed of wearing the wedding ring and the masculine token of wealth and power on the thumb. EGYPTIAN RINGS. The ring is so frequently alluded to in the üld Testament as to make it plain that the greatest importance attached to it, even in the pastoral age. In Gen. xii, 42, it is stated that "Pharaoh took off his ring f rom his hand and put it on Joseph's hand," as a signal mark of favor. In Esth. iii, 10, inention is made of King Ahasuerus taking his ring from his hand and giving it to Haman, and the context shows that certain written docnments were "sealed with the king's ring." The oíd time rings were made of all sorts of material. Pliny mentions that iron rings were commonly wom by betrothed persons. It seems tolerably certain that rings of gold and silver were worn only by kings, princes and nobles, while less expensive circlets of brass, ivory, iron and porcelain or glass were worn by the average citizen. The oldest gold Egyptian finger ring actually preserved belouged to Amunoph III, who reigned over Egypt fourteen centuries before Christ waa born. Rings of the date of Osirtasen and Thothmes III, who were contemporaries of Joseph and Moses, have been found, but tney are of cominon material and doubtf ui authenticity. The scarabaeus, a beetle which formed the Egyptian token of immortality (from being a sexual) is a common emblem in Egyptian finger rings, and one of Poe's most extravagant "tales of mystery, imagination and humor" has a well established foundation, so far as the scarabaeus ring is concerned. It seems to be tolerably certain that Egyptian women wore as many rings as they could crowd on their fingers. ANTIQÜITY OP RINGS. The Egyptians and Romans nndoubtedly pref erred the lef t hand f or ring purposes, while Cassar, Livy and Tacitus all seem to insiet that the Ganls and Britons wore their rings on the right hand. In any case, it seems to have been tacitly agreed that the third finger was the place of honor. The Hebrew rings worn in those good old days were very órnate and beantiful. Quite a number of them have been preserved, and they put the art of the modern jeweler entirely to the blush. The most beautiful were the pledges of bethrothal or wedding gift. The ceremonies in connection with these rings seem to be foreshadowed in the redemption process specified in Ruth iv, 7. The workmanship of these Hebrew bethrothal rings grew still more elabórate in the Middle Ages, when towers and minarets of gold were most exquisitely built up on the hoop. The Jewish bride of this era wore the wedding ring on the first finger, but in later days shifted it for convenience to the third. The old style "genimel" or "gemmon" ring (evidently associated with the Freneh jnmeau j urn elle, uncomnion, meaning "twin") is not at all an object in collections of antique rings. The meaning of the indivisible links is self evident. Usually at the inarriage of the parties the links were severed, each party wearing one of the rings. George IV gave a gemmel ring to Mrs. Fitoherbert. The toadstone ring was another qnaint mediseval conception. It was an outcome of superstition and died when siiperstition died. The idea of the toadstone ring was to prevent mothers and small ehüdren from the evü inflnences of thefairies. The smallest wedding ring over fashioned was that nsed at the marriage of M;iry, the infant datighter of Henry VIII of Englaud, to the Dauphin of France, son of Francis I. The inarriage was performed by Cardinals Wolsey and Campeggio, the bridegroom being 8 months old and the bride I year and 10