Ring thumbnail 1
Ring thumbnail 2
Not currently on display at the V&A

Ring

early 17th century (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Rings have been used as love gifts and to symbolise marriage since Roman times. Marriage rings in early modern Europe could be made in a variety of materials and forms but the simple gold band was very commonly used. Gold hoops engraved inside or outside the hoop with a romantic motto were known as posy rings, from the French word 'poesie', or poem. Some posies were quite standardised and could be suggested by the jeweller or found in a book of mottoes or posies. Others must have been chosen by the loving donor. The inscription on this ring reads 'keep faith till death', an appeal to the wearer and perhaps a reference to the marriage service in which the couple pledge to be faithful until 'death do us part'.

This ring was formerly part of the collection of Dame Joan Evans (1893-1977), art historian and collector. Early on she collected gems and jewels which resulted in the 1921 book, English Jewellery from the 5th Century BC to 1800 . She published widely on jewellery, French medieval art and architecture. Evans was elected the first woman president of the Society of Antiquaries in 1959 (through 1964). She was a trustee of the British Museum (1963-67). In her personal life, she donated time and money to many charitable historic causes, nearly all of them anonymously. Her will left collections to the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, and the Birmingham City Art Gallery.

She gave her gem and jewellery collection to the Victoria and Albert Museum through a series of gifts, beginning in 1960. Her association with the museum went back to her childhood and she developed personal friendships with the museum curators and Directors. In 1975, two years before her death aged 84, Joan Evans made over her remaining jewels to the museum, choosing to remain anonymous during her lifetime. As she wrote jokingly to curator Charles Oman, her village was ‘divided into those who think it must have been me and those who say it cannot have been because I am so shabby.’

In her final years, offering her collection to the museum, she wrote movingly that ‘My jewels come to your Department with love and gratitude. It has been kind to me for 65 years.’


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Gold, inscribed
Brief Description
Gold posy ring, the hoop inscribed 'KEPE FAYTH TEIL DETHE.', England, early 17th century
Physical Description
Gold ring, the hoop inscribed 'KEPE FAYTH TEIL DETHE.'
Dimensions
  • Depth: 0.6cm
  • Diameter: 2.2cm
Marks and Inscriptions
  • 'KEPE FAYTH TEIL DETHE.' (inscription on hoop)
  • Unmarked
Credit line
Given by Dame Joan Evans
Object history
ex Sir John Evans and Mrs C J Longman Collections.

The posy 'Keep faith till death' was used in a number of rings. It is also referenced in the will of Elizabeth Watson of York, died 1622, (Surtees society, XXXV. 350).
Subject depicted
Summary
Rings have been used as love gifts and to symbolise marriage since Roman times. Marriage rings in early modern Europe could be made in a variety of materials and forms but the simple gold band was very commonly used. Gold hoops engraved inside or outside the hoop with a romantic motto were known as posy rings, from the French word 'poesie', or poem. Some posies were quite standardised and could be suggested by the jeweller or found in a book of mottoes or posies. Others must have been chosen by the loving donor. The inscription on this ring reads 'keep faith till death', an appeal to the wearer and perhaps a reference to the marriage service in which the couple pledge to be faithful until 'death do us part'.



This ring was formerly part of the collection of Dame Joan Evans (1893-1977), art historian and collector. Early on she collected gems and jewels which resulted in the 1921 book, English Jewellery from the 5th Century BC to 1800 . She published widely on jewellery, French medieval art and architecture. Evans was elected the first woman president of the Society of Antiquaries in 1959 (through 1964). She was a trustee of the British Museum (1963-67). In her personal life, she donated time and money to many charitable historic causes, nearly all of them anonymously. Her will left collections to the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, and the Birmingham City Art Gallery.



She gave her gem and jewellery collection to the Victoria and Albert Museum through a series of gifts, beginning in 1960. Her association with the museum went back to her childhood and she developed personal friendships with the museum curators and Directors. In 1975, two years before her death aged 84, Joan Evans made over her remaining jewels to the museum, choosing to remain anonymous during her lifetime. As she wrote jokingly to curator Charles Oman, her village was ‘divided into those who think it must have been me and those who say it cannot have been because I am so shabby.’



In her final years, offering her collection to the museum, she wrote movingly that ‘My jewels come to your Department with love and gratitude. It has been kind to me for 65 years.’

Collection
Accession Number
M.71-1960

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record createdNovember 16, 2005
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