Medieval Rings

les Enluminures
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POSY RING “IN MY CHOYCE I DO REJOYCE”

England, 17th century

Gold

  • 5.400 €
  • £4,600
  • $6,000
  • POSY RING “IN MY CHOYCE I DO REJOYCE”

    England, 17th century
    Gold
    Weight: 3g; circumference: 50.3 mm; size: US 5.5, UK L

    The name, posy, for rings like the present one derives from the French word for poem–poésie. The rings were popular gifts in seventeenth-century England and they were inscribed on the interior of the bands, so that only the wearer (and giver) would know what was written. Their often-rhymed mottos express sentiments of love, friendship, fidelity, and faith. Some, like the present, even include an identifiable marker’s mark.

    Description
    Substantial hoop for a small ring. Rounded exterior and flat interior tapering at the base. The interior is engraved with the words “In my choice I do rejoyce” followed by the maker’s mark GA in two separate circles.  The ring is in excellent condition.

    Literature
    The maker’s mark here is not recorded in any of the standard reference materials for this period, but the British Museum holds a ring with an identical GA mark and includes a similar script (1961,1202.157). The mark is also noted on a ring in the Ashmolean, AN1933.1581

    (see Taylor and Scarisbrick, Finger Rings from Ancient Egypt to the present day, 1978, no. 543)

     The motto is recorded in Evans (1931, p. 59) and appears amongst the posy collections at the British Museum (1961,1202.41). For general information on posy rings see: Scarisbrick (1994 and 2007), Taylor et al (1978), and Oman (1974)

    Reference number: 326-3

  • 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 “IN MY CHOYCE I DO REJOYCE”

England, 17th century
Gold
Weight: 3g; circumference: 50.3 mm; size: US 5.5, UK L

USD $6,000

The name, posy, for rings like the present one derives from the French word for poem–poésie. The rings were popular gifts in seventeenth-century England and they were inscribed on the interior of the bands, so that only the wearer (and giver) would know what was written. Their often-rhymed mottos express sentiments of love, friendship, fidelity, and faith. Some, like the present, even include an identifiable marker’s mark.

Description
Substantial hoop for a small ring. Rounded exterior and flat interior tapering at the base. The interior is engraved with the words “In my choice I do rejoyce” followed by the maker’s mark GA in two separate circles.  The ring is in excellent condition.

Literature
The maker’s mark here is not recorded in any of the standard reference materials for this period, but the British Museum holds a ring with an identical GA mark and includes a similar script (1961,1202.157). The mark is also noted on a ring in the Ashmolean, AN1933.1581

(see Taylor and Scarisbrick, Finger Rings from Ancient Egypt to the present day, 1978, no. 543)

 The motto is recorded in Evans (1931, p. 59) and appears amongst the posy collections at the British Museum (1961,1202.41). For general information on posy rings see: Scarisbrick (1994 and 2007), Taylor et al (1978), and Oman (1974)

Reference number: 326-3

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