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Gold Bloodstone Signet Ring

Date: Before 1857
Dimensions:
Overall: 19 x 16 mm, 0.008 kg
Medium: Yellow gold, bloodstone
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with the assistance of the Andrew Thyne Reid Trust
Object Name: Ring
Object No: 00025284
Related Place:South Head,

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    Description
    A yellow gold signet ring set with a raised shield shaped bloodstone surrounded by ornate leaf and scroll decoration. Part of the material from the historic shipwreck DUNBAR.
    The DUNBAR Collection was retrieved under the auspices of an amnesty enacted through the jurisdiction of the Historic Shipwrecks Act, 1976.
    SignificanceThe DUNBAR wreck of 1857 was a significant event in the colonial life of Sydney. In addition to the loss of life the wreck also presented a cultural snapshot of the times. The material excavated from the wreck is a poignant reminder of the domestic and commercial life of the passengers and those awaiting them in Sydney.
    HistoryThe use of the bloodstone was popular in Victorian jewellery as it had a number of meanings. Its use had religious significance as it was long associated with the crucifixion of Christ, the flecks of red in the dark green stone representing Christ's blood. Bloodstone was also considered a healing stone for blood and muscular ailments. Rings, brooches and pendants were often shield or crest shaped, such as this example from the DUNBAR, to represent courage. Also, Queen Victoria's and Prince Albert's new retreat in Balmoral made Scottish jewellery, an enthusiastic industry of bloodstone use, fashionable to wear during this period.
    On the night of Thursday 20 August 1857, the clipper DUNBAR approached the heads of Sydney Harbour after a voyage of 81 days.
    Launched in 1853, the vessel was owned by Duncan Dunbar, and was the sister ship of the PHOEBE DUNBAR, the DUNBAR CASTLE and the DUNCAN DUNBAR.
    Under the command of Captain Green, the DUNBAR was on its second voyage to Sydney. Despite the treacherous weather conditions on the night, Captain Green and his crew attempted to enter Sydney Harbour that evening, rather than wait until morning.
    The DUNBAR was driven into the reef at the foot of South Head and began to break up immediately. In the hours that followed, all but one of the passengers and crew perished. The survivor, Able Seaman James Johnson clung to a ledge on the cliff face until he was rescued on the morning of 22 August, some 36 hours after the DUNBAR ran aground.
    When news of the wreck reached Sydney the following day, it immediately captured the attention of the public. In the days following, the media provided extensive coverage of the search for survivors and victims, and daily chronicled the progress of the inquest.
    Residents were drawn to the scene for the morbid task of identifying friends, relatives and business associates. Still only a relatively small town, Sydney was staggered by the enormity and proximity of the tragedy.
    A mass funeral for those who died and who, in most cases, could not be identified was held on 24 September. The interments took place at St. Stephen's Cemetery, Camperdown where there is still a monument to the victims.

    Related Sites South Head

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