Amazing ring find and question.

Atticis

Jr. Member
Jan 24, 2022
37
208
South Louisiana
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Minelab Equinox 600
Garrett Ace 300
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Hi all. I'm hoping to find any information as to the possible history of this ring. Incidentally this is also my very first ring so that is super awesome. It was found on a known civil war camp site in Southeast Louisiana which also was a plantation site. It is a signet ring and the inscription reads TIMOR DOMINI FONS VITAE (mirrored) and has what looks to be a falcon atop 3 ostrich feathers. No hallmarks but it is definitely gold. Not sure of the stone itself. Searching online has not provided much in the way of information. Thanks
 

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Upvote 39

JeffInMass

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Jan 14, 2006
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Very unique and interesting find, opening a great many doors of research levels. Enjoy the find and all the history coming along with it.
 

Red-Coat

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Dec 23, 2019
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I checked the “Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor” published for the Genealogical Association by Crow Press of NY in 1904 (re-copyrighted in 2016 by FB &c Ltd) and the only possibility that came up was another “Butler”.

Specifically, a 1748 listing for Thomas Butler of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania (originally from Ireland). The arms were listed as “Or [gold], a chief indented azure [blue] and three escallops in bend counterchanged”; the Crest as “Out of a ducal coronet or [gold], a plume of fine ostrich feathers argent [silver], a falcon rising of the last”; the motto as “Timor Domini fons vitae”.

So the crest and motto were essentially the same as for the picture I posted for Francis Butler of Hastings (England), with the crest not matching to the ring.

There were other Butlers too, including some in Louisiana including those found by ‘relevantchair’. I no longer use genealogy sites that require payment (most of the best ones these days) and also my European IP address gets blocked by some of the American sources for information in order not to fall foul of European data protection laws… so I can’t help much in joining the dots between the various Butlers into Louisiana… even assuming that it’s a Butler we’re looking for.

Just a couple of other things to remember. Off-shoots from the main lineage of a family as a result of marrying into it might well use elements of the original family crest as I mentioned previously. The ring looks rather small, to the extent that it could be a ladies’ ring for someone who married into the family. Also, note that the American registry I referenced above uses the words “… Entitled to Coat Armor”. What we have on the ring is a standalone crest without an armorial, and also with no coronet to suggest nobility. It was often the case that those not strictly ‘entitled’ to an armorial might still use elements of it if they felt they had a family connection… or even ‘borrow’ heraldic elements that they found attractive or appropriate to create their own crest in order to impress people. There was a tendency for a certain amount of ‘one upmanship’ in those times, whereby anyone regarding themselves as prominent in the business community felt disadvantaged if they didn’t have an armorial, or a crest at the very least, whether they had a true ‘entitlement’ to it or not.

For example, that’s my family armorial in my avatar, which is registered with the College of Arms in London. It has specific elements in the crest (a helm surmounted by a fish) and a motto of "In Cruce Salus" (In the cross there is salvation) which relate to a Knighthood granted by King Richard I in 1191 towards the end of the Third Crusades. I feel entitled to ‘use’ it on the basis I believe (with evidence that has some temporal gaps) my family can be traced back to that connection. But other folks having no likelihood of the same family lineage have also since ‘adopted’ it and versions of it purely on the basis that they happen to have the same surname. Elements of it as ‘borrowed’ emblems also appear in other crests, including for completely unrelated surnames.
 
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Atticis

Atticis

Jr. Member
Jan 24, 2022
37
208
South Louisiana
Detector(s) used
Minelab Equinox 600
Garrett Ace 300
Primary Interest:
Relic Hunting
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #24
I checked the “Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor” published for the Genealogical Association by Crow Press of NY in 1904 (re-copyrighted in 2016 by FB &c Ltd) and the only possibility that came up was another “Butler”.

Specifically, a 1748 listing for Thomas Butler of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania (originally from Ireland). The arms were listed as “Or [gold], a chief indented azure [blue] and three escallops in bend counterchanged”; the Crest as “Out of a ducal coronet or [gold], a plume of fine ostrich feathers argent [silver], a falcon rising of the last”; the motto as “Timor Domini fons vitae”.

So the crest and motto were essentially the same as for the picture I posted for Francis Butler of Hastings (England), with the crest not matching to the ring.

There were other Butlers too, including some in Louisiana including those found by ‘relevantchair’. I no longer use genealogy sites that require payment (most of the best ones these days) and also my European IP address gets blocked by some of the American sources for information in order not to fall foul of European data protection laws… so I can’t help much in joining the dots between the various Butlers into Louisiana… even assuming that it’s a Butler we’re looking for.

Just a couple of other things to remember. Off-shoots from the main lineage of a family as a result of marrying into it might well use elements of the original family crest as I mentioned previously. The ring looks rather small, to the extent that it could be a ladies’ ring for someone who married into the family. Also, note that the American registry I referenced above uses the words “… Entitled to Coat Armor”. What we have on the ring is a standalone crest without an armorial, and also with no coronet to suggest nobility. It was often the case that those not strictly ‘entitled’ to an armorial might still use elements of it if they felt they had a family connection… or even ‘borrow’ heraldic elements that they found attractive or appropriate to create their own crest in order to impress people. There was a tendency for a certain amount of ‘one upmanship’ in those times, whereby anyone regarding themselves as prominent in the business community felt disadvantaged if they didn’t have an armorial, or a crest at the very least, whether they had a true ‘entitlement’ to it or not.

For example, that’s my family armorial in my avatar, which is registered with the College of Arms in London. It has specific elements in the crest (a helm surmounted by a fish) and a motto of "In Cruce Salus" (In the cross there is salvation) which relate to a Knighthood granted by King Richard I in 1191 towards the end of the Third Crusades. I feel entitled to ‘use’ it on the basis I believe (with evidence that has some temporal gaps) my family can be traced back to that connection. But other folks having no likelihood of the same family lineage have also since ‘adopted’ it and versions of it purely on the basis that they happen to have the same surname. Elements of it as ‘borrowed’ emblems also appear in other crests, including for completely unrelated surnames.
Wow! Thanks for the info! I know realistically I'll likely never know the history behind the ring but it is definitely fun trying to figure it out and I am learning new things as I dig deeper. Might run across some good local info as well. I have emailed the head of the history dept at the local university so hopefully he can direct me to someone versed in local history and maybe get some more info and narrow down the search. Either way its fun learning new things and a great part of the hobby for me. Thanks again for the help!
 

pepperj

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Feb 3, 2009
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That's a really a top shelf recovery, congratulations!
It's an interesting post up of comments on the ring.
A woman's seal ring from her side of the family?
Hope the local historians can shed more light on your awesome recovery.
 

Reulte

Jr. Member
Jun 26, 2013
45
64
Currently Central Texas
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Very nice.

Is the stone (looks like carnelian to me) sitting on a platform/table or is it hollow underneath (i.e. if you look at a light, is the stone translucent). Can you tell if it is hand- or machine-engraved?

During late 1800s-early 1900s they were usually for men (and this one looks ‘manly’) to imply inclusion into upper classes and wealth. If it is smaller, it might have been worn as a pinky ring which was more of a British tradition.
 

Red-Coat

Silver Member
Dec 23, 2019
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Surrey, UK
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During late 1800s-early 1900s they were usually for men (and this one looks ‘manly’) to imply inclusion into upper classes and wealth. If it is smaller, it might have been worn as a pinky ring which was more of a British tradition.

It seems to barely fit on Atticis' pinky! I'm more inclined to think for a lady.
 

Reulte

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Jun 26, 2013
45
64
Currently Central Texas
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It could be for a lady, but both men and women were smaller 100 years ago. On the other hand (yes, pun intended), I occasionally wear my grandfather’s and my father’s rings.
 

Stephanie Young

Jr. Member
Jan 25, 2022
24
60
Texas
Hi all. I'm hoping to find any information as to the possible history of this ring. Incidentally this is also my very first ring so that is super awesome. It was found on a known civil war camp site in Southeast Louisiana which also was a plantation site. It is a signet ring and the inscription reads TIMOR DOMINI FONS VITAE (mirrored) and has what looks to be a falcon atop 3 ostrich feathers. No hallmarks but it is definitely gold. Not sure of the stone itself. Searching online has not provided much in the way of information. Thanks
Nice find
 
OP
Atticis

Atticis

Jr. Member
Jan 24, 2022
37
208
South Louisiana
Detector(s) used
Minelab Equinox 600
Garrett Ace 300
Primary Interest:
Relic Hunting
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #31
Very nice.

Is the stone (looks like carnelian to me) sitting on a platform/table or is it hollow underneath (i.e. if you look at a light, is the stone translucent). Can you tell if it is hand- or machine-engraved?

During late 1800s-early 1900s they were usually for men (and this one looks ‘manly’) to imply inclusion into upper classes and wealth. If it is smaller, it might have been worn as a pinky ring which was more of a British tradition.
It's sitting on a table. I'm not familiar enough to say hand or machine engraved but it does seem to have quite a bit of detail. Hopefully a jeweler I know will enlighten me on that aspect next week.
 
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Atticis

Atticis

Jr. Member
Jan 24, 2022
37
208
South Louisiana
Detector(s) used
Minelab Equinox 600
Garrett Ace 300
Primary Interest:
Relic Hunting
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #32
It seems to barely fit on Atticis' pinky! I'm more inclined to think for a lady.
I am a larger than average dude though. I will say it strikes me as a man's ring and does fit well on my pinky. The picture makes it seem more snug than it actually is.
 
OP
Atticis

Atticis

Jr. Member
Jan 24, 2022
37
208
South Louisiana
Detector(s) used
Minelab Equinox 600
Garrett Ace 300
Primary Interest:
Relic Hunting
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #33
Update. I contacted the author of the book releventchair linked and will hopefully meet with him tomorrow. He seems to think it's possibly linked to his Butlers and has some family silver with their crest on it to compare.
 

Red-Coat

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Dec 23, 2019
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I am a larger than average dude though. I will say it strikes me as a man's ring and does fit well on my pinky. The picture makes it seem more snug than it actually is.

Update. I contacted the author of the book releventchair linked and will hopefully meet with him tomorrow. He seems to think it's possibly linked to his Butlers and has some family silver with their crest on it to compare.

Thanks very much for those replies. Do keep us posted, Would love to see pictures of crests on the family silver if it's possible for them to be shared.
 

CRUSADER

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May 25, 2007
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Update. I contacted the author of the book releventchair linked and will hopefully meet with him tomorrow. He seems to think it's possibly linked to his Butlers and has some family silver with their crest on it to compare.
Congrats on a great find & please update us if you find out anything further?
 

USERNAME IS VALID

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Feb 27, 2016
172
280
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It could be for a lady, but both men and women were smaller 100 years ago. On the other hand (yes, pun intended), I occasionally wear my grandfather’s and my father’s rings.


Just think how small people were a million years ago, that must be why dinosaurs seemed so big.
 

Red-Coat

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Briefly the words " Timor Domini Fons Vitae " is Latin meaning
" The fear of the LORD is a fountain of LIFE "
Could be wrong but I'm pretty sure

Thanks, but if you read the thread from the beginning, we had already established that. As I said, it's a biblical quote from Proverbs 14:27 and, as such, doesn't move us forward except that a number of families (including the Butlers) used it as their motto.
 

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