Medieval Rings

les Enluminures

Posy Rings

Early Social Media?

January 2017

How do Posy Rings speak today? Les Enluminures is launching a public contest to create your own social-media-inspired posy inscription! For fun, compose your own posy inscription and you could have the chance to win an autographed copy of “Take this Ring.” Tweet your posy inscription using the hashtag #LEposycompetition, or send it to us and we will tweet it for you!

Ever had too many characters for your tweet and have had to rely on hashtags and emojis to get across what you want to say? Well posy rings, too, were restricted by character counts, able to fit around the inside of the band. Goldsmiths would sometimes rely upon a rebus or two to save space, just like a modern-day emoji. 

Of great popularity in Tudor and Elizabethan periods, posy rings take their names and identities from their inscriptions; they are poetic by their very essence.  Poetry sounds clearly in the rhyming posies of two rings proclaiming “Gods intent none can prevent” and “Hearts United live Contented.”  You can hear it as well in the lilting iambs of two inscribed “Not the value but my love” and “No Riches to Content.”

What was the point of these bits of poetry?  Gift to a new spouse or beloved, expressive tokens of friendship… the posies provided a medium for brief messages.  Like tweets, these rings imposed strict character limits on the messages their givers could pass along to friends or lovers: 28 characters appears to be the maximum.  For the chatty, there were some workarounds, though.  As in “You never knew a ❤ more true,” rebuses offered a ready means of packing more words into a short inscription, just as texting language and emojis do now.  With inscriptions concealed along the insides of bands or blazoned around their outsides, posy rings could be used to pass private messages or to share them publicly for others to see.  Either way, these posies offer us a glimpse into the social exchanges of previous centuries – and provide an enduring means of communicating sentiments!

#LEposycompetition starts with: “we can b heroes 4ever & ever”! [R.I.P. David Bowie]

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