Alexandrinus in the second century tells us that men were required to
wear the seal ring on the little finger, as worn in this way it would
interfere least with the use of the hand, and would be best protected
from injury and loss.44 While, however, fashion must have
dictated to a great extent the finger on which a seal ring was to be
worn, we should bear in mind that any particular custom in this matter
was not constant, and that individual preferences must often have
determined the finger chosen to bear the seal ring. This diversity is
attested by the differing statements of the old writers, as well as by
the rare examples offered by ancient statues and paintings.
of the rare ivory rings in the British Museum is a signet the bezel of
which bears an engraved design of Christ on the Cross, with the Virgin
and St. John on either side. The legend is the motto of Constantine the
Great : In hoc signo vinces. The hoop of this ring, which was found in
Suffolk, has been restored at the back. The figures are very rudely
engraved for a production of the sixteenth century.45
appears to have been an ancient usage in some parts of the Christian
world to use two signet rings in connection with the baptismal
ceremonies. One of these was employed to seal up the font, or else the
baptistry, while the other was used to affix a seal upon the
profession of faith made by the neophyte, this profession being later
entered on a public register. Some of the ecclesiastical writers saw
the origin of the first-named ring in the text (Cant, iv, 12) :
44 dementis Alexandrini, " Paedagogus," lib. iii, cap. ii.
M. Dalton, " Franks Bequest, Catalogue of Finger Rings, Early
Christian, Byzantine, Teutonic, Mediaeval and Later (British Museum),"
London, 1912, p. 120, No. 778.