18th Century Enamel Memorial Ring
A George III period memorial band in black and white enamel, dedicated to the esteemed physician Alexander Eason who died, tragically, in 1796. There's a reasonable amount of information online about Dr. Eason (including a Stipple engraving of his likeness) who appears - by all accounts - to have lived a remarkable life.
The son of Barbara and George Eason, Alexander was born in 1735 - probably in Fife, Scotland - and started his career as an Army medic before becoming a well-known Manchester doctor celebrated for his work with the poor. His early career saw him serve with the 6th (Inskillin) Dragoons who, in 1754, fought at the Battle of Balaklava in the Crimea, taking part in the Charge of the Heavy Brigade. Dr Eason would have been 19. He married his cousin once removed, Jane Aytoun, in April 1780, and wrote an article on the use of acids in dying linen, published in the 'Memoirs of the Literary and Philosophical Society of Manchester, Vol. 1' (1789). In May 1796 he was thrown from his horse, en route to see a patient, leaving him paralysed from the neck down. He died two weeks later leaving behind his wife and two children, Barbara and Peter.
From his article on acids and linen:
"The use of acids, in bleaching of linen, has been long known. Formerly milk was chiefly employed; but it had several inconveniences. The quantity requisite could scarcely be obtained; its effect was slow; and, containing animal matter, it was apt to rot and spoil the cloth.
About thirty years ago, it was discovered, that fossil acids, when properly diluted with water, answered much better, and would do more in a few hours, than animal acids could do in a week, in facilitating the whitening of cloth."
He concludes that the best acid to use was muriatic acid, on account of its efficacy and relatively low cost, "the bleachers in this part of the world would do well to give it a fair trial". Quite remarkable to have a likeness, words penned, and details of a decorated professional career, all tied to one precious, personal article of jewellery...
The ring is fashioned in 18ct gold with a London hallmark inside the band, it was likely given to a close friend or relative at Dr Eason's funeral as part of his estate. The enamel is all original and in great condition, albeit with minor losses in a couple of places.
Era: Georgian, 1796
Ring size: R 1/2 or 9 US. Not resizable.
Width of band: 6.8mm
Hallmarks: English, London, 18ct Gold, 1796
Condition: Good antique condition. All original. Minor enamel loss and some surface wear.
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