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Wedding ring

Object Name: Wedding ring in box
Date: 1627
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Medium: Gold
Dimensions: Overall: 1/8 × 3/4 in., 3 dwt (0.3 × 1.9 cm, 4.7 g) Container (box): 1 1/4 × 1 1/4 × 7/8 in. (3.2 × 3.2 × 2.2 cm)
Place made: Dutch Republic
Description: Gold wedding ring with engraved foliate wreath around exterior. Inscription at interior. Wooden box with red painted exterior and arched lid with metal hook closure.
Credit Line: Gift of Kiliaen Van Renssalaer V
Object Number: 1944.259ab
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Marks: engraved: around inside: "Kiliaen Van Rensselaer vn Anna Van Weely den 14 december Ad 1627"

Gallery Label:

This ring may be the oldest heirloom to have descended in an American family line, and was passed from the eldest male child in each succeeding generation. The engraved inscription inside this ring reveals that it was presented by Kiliaen Van Rensselaer (ca. 1580-1643) to his second wife, Anna Van Wely (ca. 1601-1670), on their wedding day, December 14, 1627. According to family history, the ring was brought to New Netherland in 1675 by Kiliaen's youngest son, Rev. Nicholas Van Rensselaer (1636-1678), who may have reused it when he married Alida Schuyler (1656-1727) later that year. Eight generations after the original marriage ceremony, Kiliaen Van Rensselaer V (1879-1949) used this ring as a pledge of his commitment when he married Dorothy Manson (1886-1927) in New York City's St. Bartholomew's Church in 1905.


Presented to Anna Van Wely (ca. 1601-1670) by Kiliaen Van Rensselaer (ca. 1580-1643); to their son Nicholas Van Rensselaer (1636-1678), who married Alida Schuyler (1656-1727); to their nephew Kiliaen Van Rensselaer III (1663-1719), who married Maria Van Cortlandt (1674-ca. 1730); to their son Stephen Van Rensselaer (1707-1747), who married Elizabeth Groesbeck (1707-1756); to their son Stephen Van Rensselaer II (1742-1769), who married Catherine Livingston (1745-1810); to their son General Stephen Van Rensselaer III (1764-1839), who married (2nd) Cornelia Paterson (1780-1849); to their son William Paterson Van Rensselaer (1805-1872), who married (2nd) Sarah Rogers (1810-1887); to their son Kiliaen Van Rensselaer IV (1845-1905), who married Olivia Phelps Atterbury (1848-1923); to their son Kiliaen Van Rensselaer V (1879-1949), the donor.


"Stories in Sterling: Four Centuries of Silver in New York," New-York Historical Society, May 4–September 23, 2012; Flagler Museum, Palm Beach, FL, January 28–April 20, 2014.