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Ring

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    ca.1500-1530 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gold, cast, engraved

  • Museum number:

    895-1871

  • Gallery location:

    Medieval & Renaissance, Room 62, case 8

This ring forms part of a group known as posy rings. The name is derived from the 'poesy' or motto usually engraved around the hoop. In medieval examples the posy is mostly engraved around the outside of the hoop but later examples find it on the inner surface. Rings with amatory inscriptions can be found from the fourteenth century and would have served as love gifts, betrothal and wedding rings. Documentary sources attest to their use in weddings, for example, in 1550 John Bowyer of Lincoln's Inn in London bought a ring for his bride inscribed DEUS NOS IUNXIT (God joins us together) along with their initials and date of marriage. Posy rings were also given to friends or used to mark significant occasions.

Physical description

'Posy' ring, gold, the circular hoop engraved with inscriptions in black lettering, on the exterior my.wordely.ioye+alle.my.trust, separated by a cross and stars; on the interior +hert.tought.lyfe.and.lust.

Place of Origin

England (made)

Date

ca.1500-1530 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Gold, cast, engraved

Marks and inscriptions

'my.wordely.ioye'
'alle.my.trust'
hert.thought.lyfe.and.lust
inscribed on the interior and exterior of the hoop in black letter

Dimensions

Height: 4 mm, Diameter: 4.5 cm

Object history note

ex-Waterton. given to Waterton by the Bishop of Newcastle and Hexham.

Historical significance: This ring forms part of a group known as posy rings. The name is derived from the 'poesy' or motto usually engraved around the hoop. In medieval examples the posy is mostly engraved around the outside of the hoop but later examples find it on the inner surface. Rings with amatory inscriptions can be found from the fourteenth century and would have served as love gifts, bethrothal and wedding rings. Posy rings were also given to friends or used to mark significant occasions.

Posies, also known as 'resons' or 'chansons' can also be found on personal items such as gloves, handkerchiefs or painted on trencher plates. They were chosen by the giver or could be taken from published compendiums or commonplace books such as the 1658 "The Mysteries of Love or the Arts of Wooing" or "Love's Garland or Posies for Rings, Hand-kerchers and Gloves and such pretty tokens that Lovers send their Loves" (1674). Goldsmiths would also have kept rings in stock inscribed with a range of posies.

Descriptive line

Gold posy ring, English, about 1500-1530

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Bury, Shirley, Jewellery Gallery Summary Catalogue, (Victoria and Albert Museum, 1982), p.183, Case 32, Board L, no.22.
Oman, C.C. Victoria and Albert Museum Catalogue of Rings, 1930. Ipswich, Anglia Publishing, 1993, cat. no. 658
Waterton, Edmund, Dactyliotheca Watertoniana : a descriptive catalogue of the finger-rings in the collection of Mrs. Waterton [manuscript], 1866
Evans, Dame Joan English posies and posy rings: a catalogue with an introduction by Joan Evans, Oxford University Press, London, 1931
Evans, Sir John Posy Rings, Longman's Magazine, Vol XX, No.115, May 1892

Labels and date

POSY RING
Gold. Hoop, inscribed inside in black letter: +my.wordely.ioye+alle.my.trust+hert.tought.lyfe.and.lust
ENGLISH: early 16th century
895-1871

This is the full text from Bury, 1982, Case 32, Board L, no.22 [1982]

Materials

Gold

Techniques

Casting; Engraving

Categories

Metalwork; Jewellery; Europeana Fashion Project

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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