Medieval Rings

les Enluminures
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Posy Ring, “ONE x CHOSEN x BOTH x HAPPY *”

England, early 17th century

Gold

  • 5.800 €
  • £5,000
  • $6,500
  • Posy Ring, “ONE x CHOSEN x BOTH x HAPPY *”

    England, early 17th century
    Gold
    Weight 4.4 gr.; circumference: 55.76 mm.; US size 7.75; UK size P ½

    Messages of love and affection on “posy rings,” as a motto or inscription on a plain band, were often concealed inside the hoop, and the content only known to the wearer and giver. The name for this ring type derives from the term poésie or poetry. Personal sentiments for one another were engraved in prose or verse, either in gold, silver, or even brass depending on the person’s wealth and exchanged between friends and lovers and also at betrothals and wedding ceremonies. Posy rings are mentioned already in the plays of William Shakespeare; however, it was throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries that they became most popular. The inscription inside the hoop of this ring, evoking a person’s choice and the wish for future happiness, almost certainly implies that it was intended as a betrothal ring or presented during a wedding ceremony.

    Description:
    Plain gold band with D-section, inside with an engraved inscription in Roman capital letters “ONE x CHOSEN x BOTH x HAPPY *.” The ring shows appropriate signs of wear and is in good wearable condition.

    Reference number: 715

  • 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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ring

Posy Ring, “ONE x CHOSEN x BOTH x HAPPY *”

England, early 17th century
Gold
Weight 4.4 gr.; circumference: 55.76 mm.; US size 7.75; UK size P ½

USD $6,500

Messages of love and affection on “posy rings,” as a motto or inscription on a plain band, were often concealed inside the hoop, and the content only known to the wearer and giver. The name for this ring type derives from the term poésie or poetry. Personal sentiments for one another were engraved in prose or verse, either in gold, silver, or even brass depending on the person’s wealth and exchanged between friends and lovers and also at betrothals and wedding ceremonies. Posy rings are mentioned already in the plays of William Shakespeare; however, it was throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries that they became most popular. The inscription inside the hoop of this ring, evoking a person’s choice and the wish for future happiness, almost certainly implies that it was intended as a betrothal ring or presented during a wedding ceremony.

Description:
Plain gold band with D-section, inside with an engraved inscription in Roman capital letters “ONE x CHOSEN x BOTH x HAPPY *.” The ring shows appropriate signs of wear and is in good wearable condition.

Reference number: 715

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