An eighteenth century Jacobite secret service ring

the oval cabochon emerald in a simple collet mount with open work to shoulders and simple shank, the reverse of the closed back setting engraved CR / III / 1766

Estimate £2,000-3,000

Provenance: Property of a Gentleman, bought from a private Museum in the Montrose area where believed to have been sourced locally

Notes: The significance of this unassuming item of eighteenth century jewellery is far greater than is appears. Once defeated by the English troops in 1746 after the battle of Culloden, Prince Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) fled to the safe haven of France to reunite with his father where he and a large proportion of the Scottish population still considered him the rightful heir to the Scottish throne.

Even after this final defeat at Culloden, Charles and his father James for many years still held hopes to overthrow the English rule of Scotland and planned for another attack on the throne to claim back their rightful place in Scotland. These plans were not helped by the outlawing of Scottish traditions by the victorious English monarch and the fact that the reprisals for supporting the Jacobite cause included death. The population which backed Prince Charles had to find other ways to show their support in secret and this is where the wealth of poetry and songwriting blooms, the common factor in all writings is the fact that neither James nor Charles'' names were ever uttered but the significance was not lost to the supporters. This theme carried on to the applied arts in crafts such as silver, carvings, glass and jewellery.

This ring was used as a ''signature'' when travelling with correspondence from Charles. No document could carry a signature or seal as if the bearer was found in possession of such marked papers by government troops he would almost certainly have been sentenced to death. Therefore this ring would accompany the messenger to show they had originated from Charles and were considered an official document.

This Jacobite secret service provided an invaluable service to Charles who had to keep all his loyal supporters abreast of his plans and movements.

The cipher of CR III 1766 is also important as this is the year that Charles''s father James dies in France and Charles now considers himself the rightful King of Scotland and gives himself the title King Charles III, rather than Prince of Wales which even in exile he still used.

Sold for £14,640 (buyer's premium included)