Ring

ca. 1400-1450 (made)
Ring thumbnail 1
Ring thumbnail 2
+3
images
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Medieval & Renaissance, Room 10a, The Françoise and Georges Selz Gallery
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Posy rings, the name deriving from poesy ('poetry'), are rings with inscriptions that express affection, friendship and love. Rhyming or cryptic inscriptions were fashionable from around 1200-1500, and were written in Latin but more commonly in French, the language of courtly love. Both these languages were spoken and understood fairly widely by the elite in medieval Europe. The repetition of particular inscriptions suggest that goldsmiths had reference books of stock phrases; the more unusual inscriptions perhaps indicate a client's individual request.The inscription on this ring pense de moy (think of me), in conjunction with the sprigs and hearts, can be clearly interpreted as amorous.
The circular hoop could be engraved both inside and out; until around 1350 the style of lettering took the form of the rounded capitals, known as Lombardic script, and from that date until after 1500 lettering was in the spiky script known as Gothic.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Gold, engraved
Brief Description
Gold 'posy' ring, the hoop engraved with sprigs and a heart, inscribed in black letter + pense de moy, England or France, ca. 1400-1450
Physical Description
'Posy' ring, gold, the plain hoop engraved on the exterior with sprigs and a heart and inscribed in black lettering + pense de moy
Dimensions
  • Height: 2.1cm
  • Width: 2.1cm
  • Depth: 0.4cm
  • Internal diameter: 1.9cm
Marks and Inscriptions
+ pense de moy (Inscribed around the hoop, in black letter)
Credit line
Given by Dame Joan Evans
Summary
Posy rings, the name deriving from poesy ('poetry'), are rings with inscriptions that express affection, friendship and love. Rhyming or cryptic inscriptions were fashionable from around 1200-1500, and were written in Latin but more commonly in French, the language of courtly love. Both these languages were spoken and understood fairly widely by the elite in medieval Europe. The repetition of particular inscriptions suggest that goldsmiths had reference books of stock phrases; the more unusual inscriptions perhaps indicate a client's individual request.The inscription on this ring pense de moy (think of me), in conjunction with the sprigs and hearts, can be clearly interpreted as amorous.

The circular hoop could be engraved both inside and out; until around 1350 the style of lettering took the form of the rounded capitals, known as Lombardic script, and from that date until after 1500 lettering was in the spiky script known as Gothic.
Bibliographic References
  • Bury, Shirley, Rings, London, HMSO, 1984
  • Ward, Anne et al, The Ring: From Antiquity to the Twentieth Century, London, Thames and Hudson, 1981
  • Taylor, G. and D. Scarisbrick, Finger Rings: From Ancient Egypt to the Present Day, London, Lund Humphries, 1978
  • Scarisbrick, Diana, Rings: Symbols of Wealth and Power, London, Thames and Hudson, 1993
  • Oman, Charles, British Rings 800-1914, London, B.T. Batsford Ltd, 1974
  • Campbell, Marian, Medieval Jewellery in Europe 1100-1500, London, V&A Publishing, 2009, p.93, fig.101
Collection
Accession Number
M.222-1962

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record createdMarch 6, 2006
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