Found in the Archives

FDR’s PINKY RING

FDR with his press secretary Steve Early in the Oval Office, January 1941.

We often get asked for details about FDR’s famous pinky ring, so here’s the 4-1-1. The ring that Roosevelt wore on his left hand pinky finger was made of gold with a bloodstone center. The stone was engraved with the Roosevelt Family crest, and the inside of the band was engraved with the date “1853”. The date is the same year that FDR’s father James Roosevelt married his first wife Rebecca Howland. FDR inherited the ring from his father when he died in 1900, and FDR wore it for the rest of his life. After the President’s death in 1945, the ring passed to his eldest son James. The ring’s current whereabouts are unknown. FDR also wore another simple band behind the bloodstone ring, but we do not know whether it was a wedding band or had some other significance.

Closeup of Pinky Ring
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8 Responses to Found in the Archives

  1. Melvin E. Matthews, Jr. says:

    I contacted the Roosevelt Library in 2000 about the band ring Roosevelt wore with his bloodstone ring, and was told it was a guard ring–though such a ring is normally worn in front of the ring, not behind it as Roosevelt wore it. Before then I thought it was a wedding ring and wondered why FDR wore it on his little finger if, in fact, it was a wedding ring. I also have a black and white photograph showing the bloodstone ring–two rings in fact. On one of them, the bezel appears damaged which makes me wonder if Roosevelt had two such rings.

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  2. It is no shock that FDR wore that band … it is clear from a post-marriage photo of him when young that he wore only the band on his left pinky. That would have been the wedding band, a gift from Eleanor upon their wedding, in the British tradition. You will see all the princes in England wearing their signet rings on top of their wedding bands like that. Also, I have heard a rumor that FDR had either a replica or an original signet of his own made with a bloodstone set in gold, like his inherited ring.

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  3. Melvin E. Matthews, Jr. says:

    Would the inherited Roosevelt ring be a plain gold signet ring–with no stone in it origianlly?

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  4. Melvin E. Matthews, Jr. says:

    Where did you hear the rumor about Roosevelt’s ring?

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  5. Rev. E. A. Hernandez says:

    No, the inherited ring is as described. Whether the stone might have fallen out later, no one knows. No one knows the whereabouts of this ring. There are no “rumours” as to FDR’s ring. The biography “The Lion and the Fox” by James MacGregor Burns explains all this. The ring was left to FDR’s son John. It disappeared thereafter.

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  6. Matthew, you posted: ‘I contacted the Roosevelt Library in 2000 about the band ring Roosevelt wore with his bloodstone ring, and was told it was a guard ring–though such a ring is normally worn in front of the ring, not behind it as Roosevelt wore it. Before then I thought it was a wedding ring and wondered why FDR wore it on his little finger if, in fact, it was a wedding ring. I also have a black and white photograph showing the bloodstone ring–two rings in fact. On one of them, the bezel appears damaged which makes me wonder if Roosevelt had two such rings.’

    Been dying to clarify properly: though there is literally no written mention of his rings that I can find anyplace, photos from Burns’ THE LION AND THE FOX biography show FDR’s father James holding FDR as a toddler. On James’ left pinky is the seal ring, which he left to FDR. It is not clear if FDR had a replica, an original of his own or simply wore his father’s ring. I very much believe in the latter theory.

    In Burns’ biography, you can see FDR wearing his wedding band ca. 1911 the earliest photo of it. Later, ca. 1913, he is seen wearing both the wedding band and the Roosevelt signet ring. So there is little doubt that FDR cherished and wore that ring as a birthright and perhaps as a memento. Again, whether he owned more than one is a mystery, but written references to the signet in general have simply said it vanished after FDR’s son John inherited it.

    It is unknown whether John Roosevelt ever wore it. Hope all this helps.

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  7. ‘Theodore Roosevelt’s daughter, Alice Roosevelt Longworth, pointed out that the family “had roses in book plates and crested rings …. FDR’s grandson David B. Roosevelt would write that “roses have always been an important symbol of our family’s heritage,” whether in gardens or coats of arms …. FDR himself regularly wore a signet ring with the arms carved in lapis lazuli [it was bloodstone, I think this is author’s error. ~EAH] … ‘

    -from http://www.americanheraldry.org/pages/index.php?n=president.roosevelt which has splendid representations of the two slightly different coats of arms used by President Theodore Roosevelt and President Franklin Roosevelt. There is a humorous mention of the way the signet emblazon, employing three ostrich feathers at the top, resembles the signet seal of the Prince of Wales.

    And may I add the shape and design – a long ovaloid bezel/stone-set – is a very typical Victorian English style.

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  8. Melvin E. Matthews, Jr. says:

    Thank you.

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