Medieval Rings

les Enluminures
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Posy Ring, "God hath me sent my harts content"

England, early 18th century

Gold

  • 3.500 €
  • £3,200
  • $4,000
  • Posy Ring, "God hath me sent my harts content"

    England, early 18th century
    Gold
    Weight 6.0 gr; circumference 56.45; US size 7 3/4; UK size P ½

    “Posy rings,” their name deriving from the term poesie or poetry, are rings with inscriptions on a plain gold band, either in prose or verse. Short, rhyming poems called “posies” were prevalent from the late medieval period, serving as expressions of sentiment. Such tokens of affection with short verses led to poetic compendia or commonplace books, like Loues Garland, or Posies for Rings, Hand-Kerchers, and Gloues, and such pretty Tokens that Louers send their Loues, in1624, Cupids Posies in 1674, and The Card of Courtship in 1715.  During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries amatory mottos in posy rings became increasingly popular given between friends, relatives and lovers and also as betrothal rings and during wedding ceremonies as confirmation of the union. The message often concealed inside the hoop was only known to the giver and recipient.   

    Description:
    Gold ring with D-section, plain on the rounded exterior and engraved on the interior is the inscription in italics “God hath sent my harts content”.  The shield-like punch with maker’s mark inside the hoop shows the conjoined initials ‘IH’; whilst the mark is distinctive, the name of the goldsmith is yet to be identified. The ring signs of wear through age, and is in good wearable condition.

    Literature:
    Joan Evans records eleven variations of this motto (Evans 1931, p. 42). A ring with the same motto is in the British Museum, London (Dalton 1912, no. 1168 and variations 1169, 1170 and 1534). A variant of the love inscription is found in a ring in the Museum of London (62.4/92). 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: 863

  • Bezel

    The upper, protruding part of a finger ring (excluding the hoop and the shoulders) often set with a gemstone.

    Band

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

    Hoop

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

    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 Ring, "God hath me sent my harts content"

England, early 18th century
Gold
Weight 6.0 gr; circumference 56.45; US size 7 3/4; UK size P ½

USD $4,000

“Posy rings,” their name deriving from the term poesie or poetry, are rings with inscriptions on a plain gold band, either in prose or verse. Short, rhyming poems called “posies” were prevalent from the late medieval period, serving as expressions of sentiment. Such tokens of affection with short verses led to poetic compendia or commonplace books, like Loues Garland, or Posies for Rings, Hand-Kerchers, and Gloues, and such pretty Tokens that Louers send their Loues, in1624, Cupids Posies in 1674, and The Card of Courtship in 1715.  During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries amatory mottos in posy rings became increasingly popular given between friends, relatives and lovers and also as betrothal rings and during wedding ceremonies as confirmation of the union. The message often concealed inside the hoop was only known to the giver and recipient.   

Description:
Gold ring with D-section, plain on the rounded exterior and engraved on the interior is the inscription in italics “God hath sent my harts content”.  The shield-like punch with maker’s mark inside the hoop shows the conjoined initials ‘IH’; whilst the mark is distinctive, the name of the goldsmith is yet to be identified. The ring signs of wear through age, and is in good wearable condition.

Literature:
Joan Evans records eleven variations of this motto (Evans 1931, p. 42). A ring with the same motto is in the British Museum, London (Dalton 1912, no. 1168 and variations 1169, 1170 and 1534). A variant of the love inscription is found in a ring in the Museum of London (62.4/92). 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: 863

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