Medieval Rings

les Enluminures
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POSY RING “GOD’S PROVIDENCE IS OUR INHERITANCE”

England, 18th century

Gold

  • 5.100 €
  • £4,500
  • $6,000
  • POSY RING “GOD’S PROVIDENCE IS OUR INHERITANCE”

    England, 18th century
    Gold
    Weight 8.2 gr.; circumference: 60.38 mm.; US size 9.25; UK size S ½

    In England the tradition of wearing a plain gold ring as a visible pledge of matrimony dates back to the late medieval period and continued well into the eighteenth century.  Queen Mary I in 1554 and later in 1840 Queen Victoria chose to be wedded with a plain gold band. Popular, however, were the so-called “posy” rings, their name deriving from the term poésie or poetry, due to the engraved mottoes or inscriptions, either in prose or verse. These messages were often concealed inside the hoop and only known to the wearer and the giver. The exchange of rings between lovers often preceded the wedding ceremony as a symbol of consent of marriage to be contracted either inside or outside of a church setting. Inscriptions evoking religious sentiment suggest the ring was given to the bride in the Church as a sign of the sacredness of marriage.      

    Description:
    The plain gold band with D-section has on the interior the engraved inscription in italic lettering “God’s providence is our inheritance.” Near the hallmark is a file mark, possibly from testing the gold. The ring shows traces of wear and is in good condition. Except for the letter ‘F’ at the beginning of the maker’s mark, the cartouche-shaped hallmark has become undecipherable through general wear.   

    Literature:
    Variants of this posy which can be found as early as the 16th century and on rings more commonly in the seventeenth and eighteenth century; see examples in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (Oman 1930, no. 682 with mention of one in the Norwich Castle Museum) and British Museum, London (Dalton 1912, nos. 1179-1181). For a history and of posy rings, 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: 720

  • 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 “GOD’S PROVIDENCE IS OUR INHERITANCE”

England, 18th century
Gold
Weight 8.2 gr.; circumference: 60.38 mm.; US size 9.25; UK size S ½

USD $6,000

In England the tradition of wearing a plain gold ring as a visible pledge of matrimony dates back to the late medieval period and continued well into the eighteenth century.  Queen Mary I in 1554 and later in 1840 Queen Victoria chose to be wedded with a plain gold band. Popular, however, were the so-called “posy” rings, their name deriving from the term poésie or poetry, due to the engraved mottoes or inscriptions, either in prose or verse. These messages were often concealed inside the hoop and only known to the wearer and the giver. The exchange of rings between lovers often preceded the wedding ceremony as a symbol of consent of marriage to be contracted either inside or outside of a church setting. Inscriptions evoking religious sentiment suggest the ring was given to the bride in the Church as a sign of the sacredness of marriage.      

Description:
The plain gold band with D-section has on the interior the engraved inscription in italic lettering “God’s providence is our inheritance.” Near the hallmark is a file mark, possibly from testing the gold. The ring shows traces of wear and is in good condition. Except for the letter ‘F’ at the beginning of the maker’s mark, the cartouche-shaped hallmark has become undecipherable through general wear.   

Literature:
Variants of this posy which can be found as early as the 16th century and on rings more commonly in the seventeenth and eighteenth century; see examples in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (Oman 1930, no. 682 with mention of one in the Norwich Castle Museum) and British Museum, London (Dalton 1912, nos. 1179-1181). For a history and of posy rings, 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: 720

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