The royal engagement ring and the ‘Historic Society’ that doesn’t understand Roman numerals

Kate Middleton's engagement ring is seen in this official engagement photo.

People who care about royalty and pageantry seem to be all wrapped up in the coming wedding of Prince William (as he’s called) and his fiancée, Kate Middleton. ‘News’ reports keep cropping up showing these people how they might obtain — from local markets — cheap pieces of costume jewelry bearing a slight, superficial resemblance to the engagement ring.

Now TELEbrands (the company behind many of your favorite infomercials) is selling a poor replica of Ms. Middleton’s ring (with ‘simulated diamonds’, &c.) through a recently registered trademark, the ‘British Historic Society.’ This is intended to lend the shoddy trinket an air of legitimacy and encourage the fools at home to throw their money away.

Inventing a “society”, however, wasn’t enough, nor was adopting the British Royal Coat of Arms. To make this seem really official they needed to throw in some Latin or something, and what could be easier than Roman numerals?

The “British Historic Society” seems to have been founded in the year XIXVIXIMMX:

The British Historic Society? More like Historic BS.

If that doesn’t mean anything to you, then you probably understand how Roman numerals work. Unlike TELEbrands.

You can see MMX at the end, and possibly XI at the beginning, and the name was registered in November of 2010, but beyond that it’s just a ridiculous mess. It almost seems to punctuate the company’s crass cynicism as it can’t be bothered to do anything remotely sensible with one of the tools of their deception.

‘Yeah … make it all British-y … put in some beefeaters or something. Ooh! Make the seal more, like, Latin-y. You know — like XIXVIXIMMX or whatever. Perfect!’

I hope that no one you know has been tricked. Whenever I see an ad like I imagine scores of well-meaning but naive grandmothers trying to do something nice, and scores of relatives too polite to say anything. So sad.

There's 31 Comments So Far

  • Viv
    December 12th, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    I took note of this pathetic commercial too, and I did a google search on “british historic society” (not historical), and found your site among only a tiny handful. You are so right about the name! Trademarkia says: “On Tuesday, November 23, 2010, a U.S. federal trademark registration number 85183094 was filed for BRITISH HISTORICAL SOCIETY by Telebrands Corp. with the description Rings.” Lawl!

    So sad… it reminds me of the “authentic, limited production, one of kind, unobtainium” (altered) coins and currency that are sold in a similar vain.

    Great post, thanks for sharing!

  • judith weingarten
    December 13th, 2010 at 4:45 am

    What have you against grannies? We’re probably the last generation to have taken Latin. Anyway, you’ll probably find more grannies white-water canoeing nowadays than buying stupid ring replicas for relatives.

  • Dennis
    December 13th, 2010 at 9:49 am

    I don’t have anything against grannies, but I do think they’re heavily targeted by telemarketers.

  • jct
    December 19th, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    Its amazing that anyone actually falls for this crap. Not only is the “society” but the music background to the commercial is from Dovorak’s symphony No. 9 in E minor otherwise known as “The New World Symphony.” All the while talking about the historic nature of the royal engagement… wow now thats hutzpah!

  • BMc
    December 20th, 2010 at 5:48 am

    I literally just saw the commercial a few moments ago… and after I concluded having a good laugh, decided to do a quick search for some info on this so called “British Historic Society”. Ha… what a laugh!
    I hate to think of how many people will most likely be duped by this nonsense and end up throwing away their money on such a worthless trinket. Very sad. Although, come to think of it… anyone who falls prey to this type of shameful advertising is probably no stranger to tossing money into the dumpster for worthless junk.

  • Leslie
    December 22nd, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    Well wow. I actually looked up this website because I saw the commercial at 3am in the morning and happened to have wanted this ring, but copied down the number wrong. thank you for putting this info out there.

  • Ian
    December 23rd, 2010 at 9:32 am

    Unless they’re broadcasting different music in different versions of the commercial, the music I heard was “I Vow to Thee, My Country”… otherwise known as the middle section of Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity, from Gustav Holst’s “The Planets”.

  • Rebecca S
    December 28th, 2010 at 10:04 pm

    I already thought the commercial was hilarious before this post pointed
    out the crazy Roman Numerals. Now, I am even more amazed!

    I am pretty sure their use of the word “historic” is also inappropriate. It implies
    that their society, itself, is historically significant, rather than preserving things
    pertaining to historic events.

  • david
    December 31st, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    ok i’m not interested in the ring..however I am trying to find more info on the background music.
    Someone above said it was Dvorak, but i listenend to all of Sympony #9, and it wasn’t
    any of those movements..Are they using different commercials with differnt music?
    the music is used in this ad on their website: https://www.royalring.com/
    can anyone help?? thanks.

  • Rebecca
    December 31st, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    AHHHHH I just checked back at the royalring website and they have CHANGED THE NAME in the commercial from the British Historic Society to the Sterlington Society!!!!!!!!!!

  • Rebecca
    December 31st, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    i mean, Sterlington Collection

  • Dennis
    December 31st, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    I wonder if this post had anything to do with that! They wouldn’t want anyone googling them to make the connection. Thanks!

  • PS
    December 31st, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    Like most everyone else, I too saw the commercial and immediately googled for the British Historic Society. Along with the silly roman numerals, the music and the images of British royalty, the attempt to make it seem authentic by having a British-accented speaker is laughable as juxtaposed against the mailing address of Fairfield, NJ in big letter right across the screen. Hilarious, yet so sad that scores of people will actually fall for these shenanigans.

  • Friend_of_Heralds
    January 1st, 2011 at 12:02 am

    I believe the (mis)use of the royal heraldic devices/symbols is quite illegal. The College of Arms and the Lord Chamberlain’s Office may have something to say to these individuals. See http://www.college-of-arms.gov.uk/ and http://www.royal.gov.uk/MonarchUK/Symbols/UseroftheRoyalArms.aspx with
    http://www.royal.gov.uk/pdf/Souvenirs/Souvenir%20Guidelines%20royal%20wedding.pdf being of special interest. In any event, it is (strictly speaking) inappropriate to use the Sovereign’s emblems to represent the Prince of Wales, an noble office with its very own coat of arms that is distinct from the Queen’s coat of arms. It’s just another example of the ignorance of the marketers and opportunists.

  • Ian
    January 1st, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    @ David

    Yes, the music is I Vow to Thee, My Country. See my earlier post in this thread.
    Listen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3B49N46I39Y… at about the 3:07 mark.

  • Jeana
    January 2nd, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    I was also one of those who had about 5 red flags go up the first time I saw this commercial. I didn’t pay attention to the Roman numerals, but now that you point it out, that is absolutely HILARIOUS!!! What’s really funny, also, is the grammar and punctuation (or lack thereof) on the website. The description looks like a twelve-year-old wrote it; words are run together, there are unnecessary commas, and the whole thing is just BAD. I would be willing to bet these are the same people who try to sell those worthless “collector’s” coins and fake $2 bills. It’s sad that people spend their money on this junk thinking they are really getting a nice product, but what’s even sadder is that there are so many dishonest companies out there trying to swindle people out of their hard-earned money.

  • Scazzy
    January 3rd, 2011 at 12:56 am

    This was informative. I knew that, the second I saw that commercial, it was nothing but a marketing scheme, the only difference being that this is probably the first one that used an English voice. Everything about it screamed “Money Whore!” and “Buy This Crap!” I knew something was up when the British HISTORIC Society didn’t show up on Wikipedia (a search on Google says it is trademarked by Telebrands)… and the roman numerals were suspicious (I’m not completely educated on this, but I knew from my experience that there was something wrong; it didn’t even look like a real number). TELEBrands was the big red flag, though.
    Well, good luck to all those folks gullible/materialistic enough to buy this. At least they’re getting a hundred dollar discount…

  • Liz
    January 3rd, 2011 at 3:36 am

    What is the song in the background of the commercial?

  • Dennis
    January 3rd, 2011 at 8:40 am

    You’ll find the answer in the comments.

  • DaveAgain
    January 8th, 2011 at 10:39 pm

    I was watching a re-run of Benny Hill on the AntennaTV network when I saw the “coat of arms” and nonsensical Roman numeral, with the ring ad. I kept waiting for the punchline, thinking it was part of the show (due to the cheap-looking fake ring, but even more so to the meaningless Roman numerals). When the ordering info page came up, I just had to laugh.

    The knocked-off nature of this ring should be painfully obvious to anyone viewing the commmercial and the inset of the real ring. Suckers are born by the minute.

  • Gordon
    January 9th, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    That’s so funny. I too saw this during a “Benny Hill” show a waited for the punch line the entire comercial! At the end, I was laughing and thinking to myself, “They’re seriously trying to sell this thing.”

  • Patrick
    January 9th, 2011 at 10:54 pm

    What I’m more interested in is it a good buy for only 20 bucks.

    If I can’t afford a “real” ring…is this fine…is it a good knockoff or does it turn to dust if the weather is a little too bitter?

  • Bob
    January 10th, 2011 at 4:09 am

    If you can buy a ring on TV for 20 bucks it isn’t worth 10 dollars!

  • Edvado
    January 30th, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    The website is down now too.

  • Allan from Kitimat, BC
    April 29th, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    Saw two versions of the same TV ad scam last night – the original British Historic Society on a Canadian channel and likely it was the Sterlington Collection, later on a US channel.. Notably, in addition to the stupid creast design and meaningless Roman numerals, the BHC version was stilkl advertising planning to sell for $119.00 but on this special occasion, you could get one for $39.95 (one per family). The other however had $39.95 as the crossed out price and for a “limited time only” people senidnging their Visa # could get a copy of the fake rink for $19.95. Pathetic — and I have to say not only buyer beware, but buyer, don’t be stupid!

  • Peter Hope-Tindall
    April 30th, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    The arms in the commercial appear to be the arms of Queen Anne (1707).


  • Anonymous
    April 30th, 2011 at 8:23 pm

    There is NO “Queen of England” now, not since the Union of the Crowns. The title is Monarch of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland.

  • Anonymous
    June 25th, 2011 at 11:40 pm

    The fake Roman numerals work out to 11-16-2010, which is the day that William and Kate got engaged; the extra hilarious part is that it’s in the US date format rather than the UK date format.

  • Dennis McHenry
    June 26th, 2011 at 12:14 am

    Thanks. I didn’t pick up on the apparent reference, though it seems to be 11-16-11-2010. Maybe they started with the American form and tried to switch to the British (or vice versa) and left an extra 11 in there. They certainly aren’t known for their critical acumen, that’s for sure.

  • Jeff
    August 6th, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    Telebrands – haha. I used to deal with them as a buyer. My company used to resell their “as seen on tv” stuff. It always amazed me that there was such a market for this junk. People really think this kind of item is useful? Or will go up in value?

    It also amazes me here in the US that the “franklin mint collectable coins” infomercials (or mini-informercials) have been running so long. What’s wrong with people?

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