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Georgian Carnelian Rebus Intaglio

Georgian Carnelian Rebus Intaglio



DATE: George III, c.1800

A rebus, or rebus puzzle, can be defined as "a representation of words or syllables by pictures of objects or by symbols whose names resemble the intended words or syllables in sound". They were hugely popular throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, along with acrostics, the language of flowers, and all sorts of other secret symbolic codes.

This carnelian panel dates from the Georgian era, circa 1800, and features one of the best rebus puzzles I can remember seeing. It's carved in reverse, so when used to make a wax seal the imprint will be the correct way round. Bearing in mind the intended use was to seal a letter, it's really quite a good one: an eye, the letter x with four "specks", and the word Return scored out. To be read as "I expect no response" or "I expect nothing in return".

Other popular subjects were an eye, cupid, a yew tree (I love you), or an eye, lady with anchor, yew tree, R, wishing well (I hope you are well).


Carnelian Agate


 19.8 x 16.8 x 3.3mm