Episode 39: The Ring

Monday, June 26th, 2017

  1.  Ash nazg durbatuluk, ash nazg gimbatul, ash nazg thrakatuluk, agh burzum-ishi krimpatul (One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them, One ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them)          (J. R. R. Tolkien The Lord of the Rings (1954-55)
Welcome to Histories of the Unexpected where you will discover the history of things that you never knew had a history; like the history of the bookcase, or the history of dogs.
For this episode let us join the maestro of millennia, Professor James Daybell , and the president of the past, Dr Sam Willis, as they seek to forge from the ancient fires of antiquity the unexpected history of the ring.
So, keep your diamonds close and your emeralds closer as our bejewelled duo loop together the unexpected links on a journey from intimate messages inside a seventeenth century pose ring to DeBeers jewellers and the diamond mines of nineteenth century South Africa, from the New York advertising agency N. W. Ayer & Son to chicken farmer Mel Fisher and the wreck of the 1622 Spanish Galleon Our Lady of Atocha, from the injuries sustained by soldiers in WWII to Elizabeth I’s locket ring currently housed at Chequers, from Henry VIII’s military engineer Sir Richard Lee to the Turkish pirate Barbarossa and from John Leland’s The Itinerary written between 1535-1543 to the islands of Trobriand and the anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski.
With as much bling as Cartier and Tiffany, Sam and James bedazzle and beguile to discover that this unexpected history is actually all about: tradition and family, identity and personality, love and affection, fidelity and memory, authenticity and commemoration, marketing and capitalism, wealth and status, advancement and technology, romanticism and mourning, communication and reciprocity, expectation and interaction.
Listen out as Sam makes a bet that Sir Francis Drake wasn’t decked out in rings galore whilst on deck and James brings out the graph!
The world’s most expensive ring, the 59.60 carat Pink Star sold at Sotheby’s in 2017 for $71.2m – here’s hoping it won’t be worn by old sea dogs whilst heaving to!

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