Medieval Rings

les Enluminures
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POSY RING “IN THY SIGHT IS MY DELIGHT”

England, mid-18th century

Gold

  • 4.500 €
  • £3,900
  • $5,000
  • POSY RING “IN THY SIGHT IS MY DELIGHT”

    England, mid-18th century
    Gold
    Weight 1.4 gr; circumference 51.8 mm; US size 6; UK size L½

    Posy rings, the name deriving from poesy (“poetry”), are rings with inscriptions that express affection. In the 13th and 14th centuries the language of the posy was usually French, but from the 15th century English became increasingly common. Rings were given on many occasions and they often seem to have been declarations of love, rather than formal betrothal or marriage rings. Later examples are generally inscribed on the interior, so that the verse remains private to the wearer and giver.

    Description
    Fine hoop with round exterior and flat interior. The motto “In thy Sight is my delight” is engraved in italics on the inside of the hoop. The maker’s mark “JD” appears in a blunted corner rectangular punch. The ring is in excellent condition with only the I of “In” smoothed with wear.

    Literature
    The sentiment expressed here was rather common (see Evans 1931, p. 61). See British Museum AF.1301 and 1302 for similar rings. The use of black letter in maker’s marks seems to have been most popular in the mid-eighteenth century, however, the goldsmith here, JD, does not appear in Jackson’s history of goldsmiths (1905). The maker’s identity may be revealed as more hallmark collections are published in print and online.

    Reference number: 300-3

  • 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 THY SIGHT IS MY DELIGHT”

England, mid-18th century
Gold
Weight 1.4 gr; circumference 51.8 mm; US size 6; UK size L½

USD $5,000

Posy rings, the name deriving from poesy (“poetry”), are rings with inscriptions that express affection. In the 13th and 14th centuries the language of the posy was usually French, but from the 15th century English became increasingly common. Rings were given on many occasions and they often seem to have been declarations of love, rather than formal betrothal or marriage rings. Later examples are generally inscribed on the interior, so that the verse remains private to the wearer and giver.

Description
Fine hoop with round exterior and flat interior. The motto “In thy Sight is my delight” is engraved in italics on the inside of the hoop. The maker’s mark “JD” appears in a blunted corner rectangular punch. The ring is in excellent condition with only the I of “In” smoothed with wear.

Literature
The sentiment expressed here was rather common (see Evans 1931, p. 61). See British Museum AF.1301 and 1302 for similar rings. The use of black letter in maker’s marks seems to have been most popular in the mid-eighteenth century, however, the goldsmith here, JD, does not appear in Jackson’s history of goldsmiths (1905). The maker’s identity may be revealed as more hallmark collections are published in print and online.

Reference number: 300-3

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