Medieval Rings

les Enluminures
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Posy Ring, “A true friends gift”

England (Plymouth ?), first half of 18th century

Gold

  • 4.700 €
  • £4,200
  • $5,500
  • Posy Ring, “A true friends gift”

    England (Plymouth ?), first half of 18th century
    Gold
    Weight 4.2 gr.; circumference 60.38 mm.; US size 9.25, UK size S ¼

    Rings with love mottos and amatory inscriptions were known as “posy rings,” a term which derives from the term poetry or poésie. Posy rings were well established by the Tudor and Elizabethan periods and feature in the plays of William Shakespeare in The Merchant of Venice and in Hamlet (III, 2, 162: “Is this a prologue, or the posy of a ring”).  In 1579 John Lyly wrote in his book Euphues and England that posies “are always next to the finger, not to be seene of him that holdeth you by the hand, and yet knowne by you that weare them on your hands.” Here Lyly describes a characteristic of later posy rings where the message would be discretely concealed within the hoop, known only to giver and recipient. Throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries posy rings enjoyed great popularity, as did some recurring posies, such as “a gift for a friend” or the “a true friends gift.”

    Description:
    Wide gold band with D-section, plain on the exterior and on the interior is the engraved inscription in italics “A true friends gift” and a rectangular punch with the maker’s mark “JC” in Gothic letters. The goldsmith can tentatively be identified as Joseph Collier from Plymouth. His mark was first registered in 1713-4 and he died in 1764. The ring is in good wearable condition.

    Literature:
    Joan Evans records four variations of this motto (Evans 1931, p. 24), for example in the British Museum (Dalton 1912, no. 1109). The maker’s mark of Joseph Collier from Plymouth appears on a number of rings in the British Museum, London (AF 1344; 1961.1202.34, 35, 63, 154, 155, 210, 275, 343).  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: 814

  • 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.

    Hoop

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

  • 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, “A true friends gift”

England (Plymouth ?), first half of 18th century
Gold
Weight 4.2 gr.; circumference 60.38 mm.; US size 9.25, UK size S ¼

USD $5,500

Rings with love mottos and amatory inscriptions were known as “posy rings,” a term which derives from the term poetry or poésie. Posy rings were well established by the Tudor and Elizabethan periods and feature in the plays of William Shakespeare in The Merchant of Venice and in Hamlet (III, 2, 162: “Is this a prologue, or the posy of a ring”).  In 1579 John Lyly wrote in his book Euphues and England that posies “are always next to the finger, not to be seene of him that holdeth you by the hand, and yet knowne by you that weare them on your hands.” Here Lyly describes a characteristic of later posy rings where the message would be discretely concealed within the hoop, known only to giver and recipient. Throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries posy rings enjoyed great popularity, as did some recurring posies, such as “a gift for a friend” or the “a true friends gift.”

Description:
Wide gold band with D-section, plain on the exterior and on the interior is the engraved inscription in italics “A true friends gift” and a rectangular punch with the maker’s mark “JC” in Gothic letters. The goldsmith can tentatively be identified as Joseph Collier from Plymouth. His mark was first registered in 1713-4 and he died in 1764. The ring is in good wearable condition.

Literature:
Joan Evans records four variations of this motto (Evans 1931, p. 24), for example in the British Museum (Dalton 1912, no. 1109). The maker’s mark of Joseph Collier from Plymouth appears on a number of rings in the British Museum, London (AF 1344; 1961.1202.34, 35, 63, 154, 155, 210, 275, 343).  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: 814

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