Celebrations abound in April 2016 to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. We want to commemorate the Bard this month with a special grouping of Posy Rings. For those of you still unfamiliar with this enchanting type of ring: “posy” (from poésie or poetry) describes rings with short inscriptions on the inside of the band. “Love me and Leave me Not” is one of the most famous, occurring in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice. But, there are countless others, and they often rhyme. “I like my Choice,” “I cannot show the love I owe,” and “In my sight is my delight” are among the dozen or more featured here this month. Sometimes exchanged as wedding rings (“As God decreed, so we agreed” or “A loving wife during life”), they were also tokens of regard, personal gifts between friends. The inscription hidden on the inside of the band assured that only the giver and the receiver knew the message. The earliest ones date during Shakespeare’s lifetime and are featured in his plays and sonnets, and the genre continued unabated through the eighteenth century. Join in celebrating the Bard this month in a unique way with the gift of a Posy Ring!
Following rings from the mine to the modern private collection, this catalogue of approximately fifty rings explores the roles rings played within social relations and considers how these roles transform rings into multifaceted, richly symbolic objects.