Medieval Rings

les Enluminures
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POSY RING "HE THAT GAVE THIS GIVES HIM LIFE"

Gold

England, 17th century

  • 4.600 €
  • £4,100
  • $5,500
  • POSY RING "HE THAT GAVE THIS GIVES HIM LIFE"

    Gold
    England, 17th century
    Weight 2 gr; circumference 47.8 mm; US size 4½; UK size I½

    Bands such as this one take their name, Posy Rings, from the inscriptions inside them known as “posies,” from the French word for poem – poésie. These short, often-rhymed verses were influenced by literary exercises popular in Elizabethan England.  These rings were inscribed on the interior of the bands so that only the wearer (and giver) would know what was written – expressions of love, fidelity, and friendship. Some, as with the present ring, include more idiosyncratic messages.

    Description
    Fairly broad hoop, rationally, width to circumference. The flat interior features the engraved, italic inscription “He · that · gave · this · gives · him · life” (v’s in “gave” and “give” resemble M and N, respectively). Rounded exterior. The ring is in good condition, with some damage on the rims and some areas of possible repair.

    Literature
    Les Enluminures offers a number of Posy Rings that include, as this one, rare inscriptions. The verse here has not been recorded in any studies or collections of Posy Rings. The syntax of this sentiment suggests that it is a variation on Biblical scripture. For a catalog of verses see Evans, 1931; for general information on rings see Scarisbrick, Rings: Jewelry of Power, Love and Loyalty. London: 2007.

    Reference number: 390-2

  • 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 "HE THAT GAVE THIS GIVES HIM LIFE"

Gold
England, 17th century
Weight 2 gr; circumference 47.8 mm; US size 4½; UK size I½

USD $5,500

Bands such as this one take their name, Posy Rings, from the inscriptions inside them known as “posies,” from the French word for poem – poésie. These short, often-rhymed verses were influenced by literary exercises popular in Elizabethan England.  These rings were inscribed on the interior of the bands so that only the wearer (and giver) would know what was written – expressions of love, fidelity, and friendship. Some, as with the present ring, include more idiosyncratic messages.

Description
Fairly broad hoop, rationally, width to circumference. The flat interior features the engraved, italic inscription “He · that · gave · this · gives · him · life” (v’s in “gave” and “give” resemble M and N, respectively). Rounded exterior. The ring is in good condition, with some damage on the rims and some areas of possible repair.

Literature
Les Enluminures offers a number of Posy Rings that include, as this one, rare inscriptions. The verse here has not been recorded in any studies or collections of Posy Rings. The syntax of this sentiment suggests that it is a variation on Biblical scripture. For a catalog of verses see Evans, 1931; for general information on rings see Scarisbrick, Rings: Jewelry of Power, Love and Loyalty. London: 2007.

Reference number: 390-2

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