Medieval Rings

les Enluminures
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Gold Ring Franciscus South miles

England, 17th century

Gold, traces of enamel

  • 5.100 €
  • £4,500
  • $6,000
  • Gold Ring Franciscus South miles

    England, 17th century
    Gold, traces of enamel
    Weight 3.3 gr.; circumference 50.58; US size 5.5; UK size L

    From the Middle Ages onwards rings bearing a motto or inscription with personal message became ever more popular. Plain gold bands with the name engraved of a loved one or sentimental messages in prose or verse, also known as posy rings were customarily exchanged between friends, relatives and lovers, but also at betrothals and wedding ceremonies. The messages were often concealed inside the hoop and the content only known to the wearer and giver. When worn it was believed the closeness to the skin increased the emotional value and passion. Engraved or in enamel, symbols on the exterior of the hoop, such as here the flowers, would enhance the meaning and the ornamental feature would have had a personal significance for the wearer.

    Description:
    Gold band with D-section on the exterior of the hoop engraved with flowers (forget-me-nots, carnations, and daisies). The ring was originally enameled, and traces of black enamel remain. Inside the hoop engraved in italic script "Franciscus South miles" (Franciscus South, knight). Also inside the hoop is a punch in shield form with a capital letter “S." probably a maker’s mark, which remains unidentified. The ring is in good wearable condition.

    Literature:
    The inscription inside the hoop is unusual and possibly refers to the owner or the giver of the ring to a loved one. The name Franciscus South perhaps refers to a knight (or common knight, known as eques auratus in England) recorded in Lincolnshire, England, around the year 1600 and as late as 1625. For a list 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 on the wearing of 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: 843

  • Enamel

    Siliceous substance fusible upon metal, either transparent or opaque and with or without color, but it is usually employed to add decorative color to metal. Enamel can be applied in many different ways, including cloisonné , champlevé , and plique à jour .

    Hoop

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

    Band

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

    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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Gold Ring Franciscus South miles

England, 17th century
Gold, traces of enamel
Weight 3.3 gr.; circumference 50.58; US size 5.5; UK size L

USD $6,000

From the Middle Ages onwards rings bearing a motto or inscription with personal message became ever more popular. Plain gold bands with the name engraved of a loved one or sentimental messages in prose or verse, also known as posy rings were customarily exchanged between friends, relatives and lovers, but also at betrothals and wedding ceremonies. The messages were often concealed inside the hoop and the content only known to the wearer and giver. When worn it was believed the closeness to the skin increased the emotional value and passion. Engraved or in enamel, symbols on the exterior of the hoop, such as here the flowers, would enhance the meaning and the ornamental feature would have had a personal significance for the wearer.

Description:
Gold band with D-section on the exterior of the hoop engraved with flowers (forget-me-nots, carnations, and daisies). The ring was originally enameled, and traces of black enamel remain. Inside the hoop engraved in italic script "Franciscus South miles" (Franciscus South, knight). Also inside the hoop is a punch in shield form with a capital letter “S." probably a maker’s mark, which remains unidentified. The ring is in good wearable condition.

Literature:
The inscription inside the hoop is unusual and possibly refers to the owner or the giver of the ring to a loved one. The name Franciscus South perhaps refers to a knight (or common knight, known as eques auratus in England) recorded in Lincolnshire, England, around the year 1600 and as late as 1625. For a list 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 on the wearing of 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: 843

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