Medieval Rings

les Enluminures
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Posy Ring, “BOVND * BY * FATHE +”

England, late 16th century

Gold

  • 5.600 €
  • £5,000
  • $6,500
  • Posy Ring, “BOVND * BY * FATHE +”

    England, late 16th century
    Gold
    Weight 2.4 gr.; circumference 55.8 mm.; US size 7.75; UK size P 1/2

    Rings with love mottos and inscriptions were known as “posy rings,” a term that derives from the term poetry or poésie.   Such amatory inscriptions occur on jewelry, either on ring brooches or rings as early as in the late medieval period and these were worn to be seen on the exterior of the band, as here. Posy rings were well established by the Tudor and Elizabethan periods, and feature in the plays of William Shakespeare, such as in Hamlet (III, 2, 162) “Is this a prologue, or the posy of a ring” and in The Merchant of Venice.  They enjoyed great popularity throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and were customarily exchanged between friends, relatives and lovers, and at betrothal and wedding ceremonies.

    Description:
    Wide gold band, plain on the interior, and on the exterior punched circles imitating beaded wire define the edges. This accompanies the central frieze with engraved inscription in serifed capital letters: “+BOVND * BY * FATHE” (bound by faith). The ring is in good wearable condition.

    Provenance
    This ring was discovered in Cobb Manor in Gatenby in North Yorkshire in 2012. It has been disclaimed by the Crown under the Treasure Act of 1996, Treasure Ref: 2012T886, PAS: NCL5FE897.

    Literature:
    Similar rings of the sixteenth century with varying inscriptions can be found in the British Museum, London (1961, 1202.148) and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (905-1871).

    For a history of posy rings with extensive list of posies, see Evans, 1931 and Anon., A Garland of Love: A Collection of Posy-Ring Mottoes, London 1907. For further information, see Dalton 1912, pp. 174 ff.; Scarisbrick 2007, pp. 74 ff., Taylor and Scarisbrick 1978, and Oman 1974, pp. 39 ff..

    Reference number: 799

  • Band

    A ring made from a thin, often flat, ribbon-like strip of material (usually metal). The band can be unadorned or decorated.

    Hoop

    Also called the shank, the rounded part of the ring that encircles the finger and connects to the bezel at the shoulders.

    Posy

    From “poesie” for poetry, a posy ring is one with an inscription usually on the interior of the band and was especially popular in Elizabethan and Tudor England.

  • Renaissance & Baroque

    Considerable evidence exists concerning the making and wearing of rings in the Renaissance. Their appearance in painted portraits confirms that they continued to be worn on multiple fingers, suspended from chains and ribbons, sewn onto sleeves or hats, and so forth. When not worn they were sometimes stored on parchment rolls or in neatly compartmentalized boxes, known from documents and paintings. In the Renaissance, the medieval practice of using uncut stones was abandoned in favor of faceting; table-cut facets were among the earliest and most popular, but other cuts rapidly followed. Making rings that would show off best the qualities of the stone became a skill that exercised the virtuosity of cutters, chasers, engravers, enamellers, and goldsmiths sometimes in collaboration. The highly sculpturesque quality of most Renaissance and Baroque rings can be compared with the striving for greater veracity that characterizes the monumental arts of this period.

    By far the most common type of ring from the Renaissance was the boxed bezel set with faceted stones in highly ornate geometric bezels with intricate articulated shoulders, sometimes with protruding volutes, the whole richly enameled. Surviving drawings for rings by sixteenth-century goldsmith-designers Etienne Delaune, Pierre Woeiriot, and René Boyvin record variations on this type. Often reviving classical subjects and motifs, numerous cameos and intaglios also date from this era, produced under illustrious, often princely, patronage. By the sixteenth century the careers of famous gem-cutters can be reconstructed; they include Valerio Belli, Alessandro Cesati, Alessandro Masnago, and Francesco Torino. However, few Renaissance cameos and intaglios appear in their original mounts, because they were often made not as rings but rather as virtuoso carvings, kept in drawers in cabinets and taken out and admired by Renaissance princes.

    During Elizabethan and Tudor times in England, commonplace books (the earliest dated 1596) were used by goldsmiths and their customers to provide appropriate inscriptions for rings. References to posy rings (from “poésie” or poetry) abound in literature of the period; for example, in Shakespeare's Hamlet (III, ii, 162): “Is this a prologue, or the posy of a ring.” The discovery of the New World also wrought changes in the evolution of rings, as it did for painting, because new stones became available. The newly prized diamond, expensive then as now, was often imitated by the similarly favored rock crystal. Extensive surviving pictorial evidence is useful because it contributes to a more precise dating and localization of rings from this era.

     

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Posy Ring, “BOVND * BY * FATHE +”

England, late 16th century
Gold
Weight 2.4 gr.; circumference 55.8 mm.; US size 7.75; UK size P 1/2

USD $6,500

Rings with love mottos and inscriptions were known as “posy rings,” a term that derives from the term poetry or poésie.   Such amatory inscriptions occur on jewelry, either on ring brooches or rings as early as in the late medieval period and these were worn to be seen on the exterior of the band, as here. Posy rings were well established by the Tudor and Elizabethan periods, and feature in the plays of William Shakespeare, such as in Hamlet (III, 2, 162) “Is this a prologue, or the posy of a ring” and in The Merchant of Venice.  They enjoyed great popularity throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and were customarily exchanged between friends, relatives and lovers, and at betrothal and wedding ceremonies.

Description:
Wide gold band, plain on the interior, and on the exterior punched circles imitating beaded wire define the edges. This accompanies the central frieze with engraved inscription in serifed capital letters: “+BOVND * BY * FATHE” (bound by faith). The ring is in good wearable condition.

Provenance
This ring was discovered in Cobb Manor in Gatenby in North Yorkshire in 2012. It has been disclaimed by the Crown under the Treasure Act of 1996, Treasure Ref: 2012T886, PAS: NCL5FE897.

Literature:
Similar rings of the sixteenth century with varying inscriptions can be found in the British Museum, London (1961, 1202.148) and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (905-1871).

For a history of posy rings with extensive list of posies, see Evans, 1931 and Anon., A Garland of Love: A Collection of Posy-Ring Mottoes, London 1907. For further information, see Dalton 1912, pp. 174 ff.; Scarisbrick 2007, pp. 74 ff., Taylor and Scarisbrick 1978, and Oman 1974, pp. 39 ff..

Reference number: 799

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