Saturday, 12 October 2013

The Death Ring

A singular story of a poisoned ring appeared in the French newspapers a few years ago, to the effect that a gentleman who had purchased some objects of art at a shop in the Rue St. Honoré, was examining an ancient ring, when he gave himself a slight scratch in the hand with a sharp part of it. He continued talking to the dealer a short time, when he suddenly felt an indescribable sensation over his whole body, which appeared to paralyse his faculties, and he became so seriously ill that it was found necessary to send for a medical man. The doctor immediately discovered every symptom of poisoning by some mineral substance. He applied strong antidotes, and in a short time the gentleman was in a measure recovered. The ring in question having been examined by the medical man, who had long resided in Venice, was found to be what was formerly called a ‘death’ ring, in use by Italians when acts of poisoning were frequent about the middle of the seventeenth century. Attached to it inside were two claws of a lion made of the sharpest steel, and having clefts in them filled with a violent poison. In a crowded assembly, or in a ball, the wearer of this fatal ring, wishing to exercise revenge on any person, would take their hand, and when pressing in the sharp claw, would be sure to inflict a slight scratch on the skin. This was enough, for on the following morning the victim would be sure to be found dead. Notwithstanding the many years since which the poison in this ring had been placed there, it retained its strength sufficiently to cause great inconvenience to the gentleman as stated.

Source: William Jones, Finger-Ring Lore,Chatto and Windus 1877