King Solomon and his ring
In ancient times, a prized possession of any wonder-worker was his magic ring. One such ring—its jewels brought to him by angels—belonged to King Solomon. Supposedly, he used it to command the winds and fly about on a carpet; speak with birds; and compel genies to do his bidding.
By the Middle Ages, however, magic rings were viewed with skepticism—as evidenced by The History of Reynard the Fox. In that medieval fable, Reynard—a notorious scamp—claims to have inherited a magic ring. On its band, he says, are three Hebrew words that protect against lightning, witchcraft, and temptation. And it has a jewel, he says, which is divided into three sections. One section is fiery red, and shines so brightly as to serve as a torch. The second section is white, and cures illnesses. The third section is green, and makes one invincible. But Reynard is unable to produce this fabulous ring. He has sent it, he claims dubiously, as a gift to the king—having deemed himself unworthy to wear it.
In our own era, of course, magic rings have been relegated to fairy tales and fantasy games. Or have they? On hand after hand, one spots a good-luck ring (set with a birthstone or other lucky gem); a school ring (for mystic rapport with the institution); a ring with a healing crystal. And if a magic ring is one that does amazing things, or that glows with an unearthly light, what about the radio-show rings of the 1940s? These were offered as premiums to the youthful listeners of radio shows. To receive one (along with a set of instructions or a “secret manual”), you mailed in a box top from the breakfast cereal that sponsored the show. Here’s a sampling of such rings:
Tom Mix Tiger-Eye Ring. Advertised as glowing in the dark “like a ferocious animal eye…. Amaze all your friends with this magic ring.”
Tom Mix Sliding Whistle Ring. For secretly signaling your friends.
Tom Mix Magnet Ring. Picks up pins, paper clips, etc.
Jack Armstrong Dragon’s Eye Ring. “Yours! This mysterious ring that glows in the dark!”
Jack Armstrong Egyptian Whistle Ring. Comes with a card that lists the Secret Whistling Code.
Orphan Annie Mystic Eye Ring. Equipped with a diagonal mirror for peeking around corners. (This same ring was later offered as the Lone Ranger Look-around Ring.)
Captain Midnight Mystic Sun-God Ring. “Their best-known god called Tonatiuh, the Sun God, is shown as the Aztecs pictured him on the side of your ring…. The red plastic stone of your ring symbolizes the altar of the Sun God’s temple. Its rich, brilliant color simulates the deep red glow of a genuine ruby…. Press gently and watch the stone slide out, revealing the hidden compartment underneath.” (From the manual, written by Captain Midnight himself.)
Sky King Two-way Tele-blinker Ring.
Lone Ranger Weather Ring. Changes color if rain or snow is imminent.
Tom Mix Look-in Mystery Ring. Look through its peephole and see Tom Mix and his horse Tony.
Buck Rogers Ring of Saturn. According to its instructions, this ring “has magic qualities that make it glow in the dark with mysterious blue light…. the magic power of the Ring of Saturn is yours!”
The magic power of the Ring of Saturn! In former times, such rings were worn only by wizards, and acquired by supernatural means. By the twentieth century, any boy or girl could get one by sending in a box top.
(Source: The Overstreet Toy Ring Price Guide, 3rd Edition)
(from The Book of King Solomon)
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