in Bad Latin, Culture, Skepticism

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.

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  1. 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!

  2. 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.

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

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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”.

  7. 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.

  8. 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:
    can anyone help?? thanks.

  9. 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!!!!!!!!!!

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

  10. 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.

  11. 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 and with 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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…

  14. 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.

  15. 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.”

  16. 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?

  17. 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!

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

    • 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.

  20. 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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