Culture Minister Ed Vaizey took the decision to defer granting an export licence for the ring following a recommendation by the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA), administered by Arts Council England, on the grounds that it is so closely connected with our history and national life that its departure would be a misfortune.
The ring is in excellent condition, and is accompanied by papers documenting the history of the ring within Jane Austen’s family. The ring passed first to her sister Cassandra, who, as soon as she heard of her engagement, gave it to her sister-in-law Eleanor Austen, second wife of the Revd. Henry Thomas Austen (brother of Jane and Cassandra). It has remained in the family ever since.
Jane Austen placed great significance on jewellery’s link to personal relationships both in her life and in her novels. Often reflecting the characters of wearers in her novels, jewels were frequently much more than symbols of vanity and excess. It is precisely because Jane Austen understood the social and emotional nuances which could be associated with a piece of jewellery, and because jewellery has such potency as an intimate possession, that the ring aroused huge interest when it was auctioned last year.
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said:
“Jane Austen’s modest lifestyle and her early death mean that objects associated with her of any kind are extremely rare, so I hope that a UK buyer comes forward so this simple but elegant ring can be saved for the nation.”
Philippa Glanville from the RCEWA said:
“Jane Austen treasured her simple jewellery. This pretty ring, a rare survival, evokes her personality and expresses the strong feelings attached to rings at the time.”
The decision on the export licence application for the ring will be deferred for a period ending on 30 September 2013 inclusive. This period may be extended until 30 December 2013 inclusive if a serious intention to raise funds to purchase the ring is made at the recommended price of £152,450 (plus £30,490 VAT which can be reclaimed by most institutions).
Notes to editors
1. Organisations or individuals interested in purchasing the ring should contact RCEWA on 0845 300 6200.
2. The Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest is an independent body, serviced by Arts Council England, which advises the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport on whether a cultural object, intended for export, is of national importance under specified criteria.
3. Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. Between 2010 and 2015, it will invest £1.9 billion of public money from government and an estimated £1.1 billion from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country. www.artscouncil.org.uk