Medieval Rings

les Enluminures
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POSY, “GOD’S PROVIDENCE IS OUR INHERITANCE”

England, 17th century

Gold

  • 3.800 €
  • £3,400
  • $4,500
  • POSY, “GOD’S PROVIDENCE IS OUR INHERITANCE”

    England, 17th century
    Gold
    Weight 2.5 gr.; circumference 55.3; US size 7½; UK size P

    Posy rings enjoyed great popularity in the seventieth and eighteenth centuries. So-called after the short rhyming poems (poesies) inscribed on the interiors of their hoops, they were often exchanged by lovers or served as wedding rings. In her compendium of English posy-ring lyrics, Joan Evans recorded several versions of the current line, “God’s Providence is our Inheritance,” with various spellings, attesting to its wide appeal.

    Description
    The interior of this delicate, D-section gold band bears the inscription, “God’s providence is our inheritance,” in a flowing Italic script. The inscription is worn in some places, evidence of long wear, but the band retains a high metallic polish little marred with scuffs or scratches. The band itself is flattened in the uninscribed area.  This dent may have been delivered when the jeweler added his mark, all of which survives later wear is the letter Q.

    Literature
    Posy recorded in Evans 1931. Three rings preserved in the British Museum bear this saying (Dalton 1912, nos. 1179, 1180, & 1181).

    Reference number: 671

  • 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, “GOD’S PROVIDENCE IS OUR INHERITANCE”

England, 17th century
Gold
Weight 2.5 gr.; circumference 55.3; US size 7½; UK size P

USD $4,500

Posy rings enjoyed great popularity in the seventieth and eighteenth centuries. So-called after the short rhyming poems (poesies) inscribed on the interiors of their hoops, they were often exchanged by lovers or served as wedding rings. In her compendium of English posy-ring lyrics, Joan Evans recorded several versions of the current line, “God’s Providence is our Inheritance,” with various spellings, attesting to its wide appeal.

Description
The interior of this delicate, D-section gold band bears the inscription, “God’s providence is our inheritance,” in a flowing Italic script. The inscription is worn in some places, evidence of long wear, but the band retains a high metallic polish little marred with scuffs or scratches. The band itself is flattened in the uninscribed area.  This dent may have been delivered when the jeweler added his mark, all of which survives later wear is the letter Q.

Literature
Posy recorded in Evans 1931. Three rings preserved in the British Museum bear this saying (Dalton 1912, nos. 1179, 1180, & 1181).

Reference number: 671

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