Medieval Rings

les Enluminures
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Posy Ring, "I long to have but blush to crave"

England, 17th century

Gold

  • 7.600 €
  • £6,800
  • $9,000
  • Posy Ring, "I long to have but blush to crave"

    England, 17th century
    Gold
    Weight 1.4 gr.; circumference 49.95 mm., US size 5.25, UK size K ¼

    Posy rings, their name deriving from the term poesie or poetry, are rings with mottoes or inscriptions on a plain gold band, either in prose or verse. They find mention in plays by William Shakespeare, such as Hamlet and the Merchant of Venice, and throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries posy rings enjoyed great popularity. These were customarily exchanged between friends, relatives and lovers, and at betrothals and wedding ceremonies. The secret message was concealed inside the hoop and its content only known to the wearer and giver; it was believed that the ring's closeness to the skin increased the emotion impact of the inscription. Here the message is poignantly strengthened by the hands holding a heart on the exterior of the band.

    Description:
    Gold band with D-section, on the exterior in relief two hands clasp a heart and along the hoop are daisy-like flowers in a frieze. Inside the hoop is the engraved inscription “I long to have but blush to crave” in Italic script. The ring is in good wearable condition.   

    Literature:
    The posy “I long to have but blush to crave” is rare and is perhaps drawn from a poem on the life and legend of Sir Nicholas Throckmorton (c. 1515/16-1571); a line from a 19th-century edition entitled "Throckmorton's Ghost" records the line: “Dost thou want, and blush to crave?" (The Legend of Sir Nicholas Throckmorton, ed. J. G. Nichols, London, 1874, p. 23). For examples of posies found on rings, see: Evans, 1931 and Anon., A Garland of Love: A Collection of Posy-Ring Mottoes, London 1907. For general information about posy rings, see Dalton 1912, pp. 174 ff.; Scarisbrick 2007, pp. 74 ff., Taylor and Scarisbrick 1978, and Oman 1974, pp. 39 ff.

    Reference number: 858

  • Band

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

    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.

    Engraving

    Technique of cutting patterns into a surface with a sharp tool; an impression made from the cut surface shows the design of the incised lines in reverse (hence intaglio).

  • 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, "I long to have but blush to crave"

England, 17th century
Gold
Weight 1.4 gr.; circumference 49.95 mm., US size 5.25, UK size K ¼

USD $9,000

Posy rings, their name deriving from the term poesie or poetry, are rings with mottoes or inscriptions on a plain gold band, either in prose or verse. They find mention in plays by William Shakespeare, such as Hamlet and the Merchant of Venice, and throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries posy rings enjoyed great popularity. These were customarily exchanged between friends, relatives and lovers, and at betrothals and wedding ceremonies. The secret message was concealed inside the hoop and its content only known to the wearer and giver; it was believed that the ring's closeness to the skin increased the emotion impact of the inscription. Here the message is poignantly strengthened by the hands holding a heart on the exterior of the band.

Description:
Gold band with D-section, on the exterior in relief two hands clasp a heart and along the hoop are daisy-like flowers in a frieze. Inside the hoop is the engraved inscription “I long to have but blush to crave” in Italic script. The ring is in good wearable condition.   

Literature:
The posy “I long to have but blush to crave” is rare and is perhaps drawn from a poem on the life and legend of Sir Nicholas Throckmorton (c. 1515/16-1571); a line from a 19th-century edition entitled "Throckmorton's Ghost" records the line: “Dost thou want, and blush to crave?" (The Legend of Sir Nicholas Throckmorton, ed. J. G. Nichols, London, 1874, p. 23). For examples of posies found on rings, see: Evans, 1931 and Anon., A Garland of Love: A Collection of Posy-Ring Mottoes, London 1907. For general information about posy rings, see Dalton 1912, pp. 174 ff.; Scarisbrick 2007, pp. 74 ff., Taylor and Scarisbrick 1978, and Oman 1974, pp. 39 ff.

Reference number: 858

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