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[Tidbits] The Key is in the Ring


The Key is in the Ring

Circa 79 A.D…or a bit earlier. Disillusionment spread across the
Roman landscape. Thieves were everywhere. It was a time of copious
adornment of gems and jewelry. Unlike the civilized mentality of
today…Romans of old flaunted their jewelry as affirmation of the god
given mental and natural superiority a person of wealth has over his
less financially fortunate neighbors. However…one had to protect
oneself as best as possible against the machinations of unscrupulous
second story men of the day who cared not a wit about personal
possession, rights of ownership, or superiority.

A wedding is about to take place. Pliny…copious writer of the
day…reporter by pen of all things worthy of note…the literary
version of a Walter Winchel of yesteryear…describes the bride as
being covered from head to foot with pearls and emeralds. Pliny… to
his credit…does not like the vulgar display of wealth. And he does
not mind saying so when the occasion calls for it. Listen…a nice
two carat brilliant cut set in platinum with a couple of baguettes on
the side…okay…that’s in good taste. But from head to foot… with
emeralds and pearls? That was a bit much.

So now comes the conundrum. Before the jewelry is donned…and after
it is un-donned…where is it kept? Why…in a chest of course. And
how is the chest protected against thievery? At one time it was enough
to seal the chest with wax…knowing no one would have the gall the
break a sacred seal. But that day was gone. Criminals were without
conscience. Seals meant nothing to them. Nothing was any longer
sacred. Oh what to do what to do? The lament crossed the land…and a
solution was found. Invent a lock…then invent a key…and then lock
the durn chest.

And so it was said and so it was invented. And a new predicament
arose. Who would be the keeper of the key? And what if the keeper
could not be thoroughly trusted? And so another lock was made… and
another key. A lock and key for the coffer which held all the jewels.
And a lock and key for the cabinet in which the chest was held. And so
the trusted servant held one key…the key to the casket containing
the valuable. And the owner and master held the other key…the key to
the closet in which the coffer was held.

And a new predicament arose. Where to hide the key. And the solution
was found. Form a ring…in brass perhaps…a ring in the shape of a
key…and let the servant wear one ring…and the owner the other.
Pliny…who felt the wearing of much jewelry to show one’s wealth to
be ostentatious…felt the wearing of one “key ring” to be even more
ostentatious…for it told one and all that the ring indicated the
possession of great wealth…so much wealth in fact…that it had to
be locked up. And so owners–I imagine–began wearing key rings in
order to either secure their wealth…or in order to let others think
they had wealth important enough that it needed to be secured under
lock and key. Illusion–after all–is often as important if not more
important than reality.

Key Rings my friends…were the fashion of the day long long ago. They
were worn in such a way that the notches and slots of the key lay
alongside the finger and were perpendicular to the loop of the ring.
Whether for pragmatic reasons or illusory reasons… they sold…and
were quite popular.

For those of you who are new to this thing called Tidbits… may I
direct you to my home page at where you will
scroll down the table menu till you get to the box that says
Tidbits…and inside the box where it says Tidbit Graphics…click on
the link that says: Key Ring…where you will see a brass sample of
one of these rings.

And there ya have it.
That’s it for this week folks.
Catch you all next week.
Benjamin Mark

TYLER-ADAM CORP.–Jewelry Manufacturers
Tel: 1-800-20-TYLER
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