Aluminium fighting ring from France, Europe. Collected by John Charles Ffoulkes. Given to the Museum in 1911.
Many hand-fighting weapons were also conceived as items of jewellery. This is an aluminium fighting ring, bought in Paris by the weapons scholar C. F. Ffoulkes in 1911. It bears a grotesque or gargoyle face, sticking its tongue out in derision. The contemptuous expression is very appropriate to its function. Gargoyles are a prominent feature of the central Parisian landscape and Notre Dame cathedral is widely considered to host one of the finest collections of gargoyles in Europe.
Aluminium was first extracted in the early 19th century and was classed as a semi-precious metal. Due to its rarity, jewellery was its earliest major application. In the 1880s, the Frenchman Paul Heroult developed a cheap electrolytic method of extracting aluminimum from Bauxite ore. Thereafter, it became more plentiful but retained its modernist and semi-precious associations for some time. Therefore, since this ring was made either in the late 19th or early 20th centuries, it was probably an item of some worth.