If you have this, then you have me. This 16th-17th century posy ring bears the inscription 'IF THIS THEN ME', an affirmation of loyalty and love, in seriffed capitals with small quatrefoil before it.
Capital letter inscriptions are thought to have been more common before the mid 17th century AD, when inscriptions in italic script gained popularity.
'Posy' is derived from 'poesy' or 'poetry'. In the medieval period many rings bore posy inscriptions in Latin or French, the languages frequently spoken by the affluent elites. Later, inscriptions in English became more usual, although the lack of standardised spelling might surprise a modern reader. The inscription is generally found on the interior of the ring, hidden to everyone except the wearer and most of the sentimental mottoes were taken from the popular literature of the time. In fact, love inscriptions often repeat each other.
In the later 16th century, 'posy' specifically meant a short inscription. A posy is described in contemporary literature as a short 'epigram' of less than one verse. The practice of giving rings engraved with mottoes at betrothals or weddings was common in England from the 16th century onwards, and continued until the late 18th century. Joan Evans assumed that posy rings were principally used by/between lovers and distinguished four contexts for the giving of posy rings by one lover to another: betrothals, weddings, St Valentine's Day and sometimes on occasions of mourning.
There are some remains to the niello fill of the lettering. There is some usual wear commensurate with the ring's age to the band. 1.12 grams, 17.40mm overall, 16.23mm internal diameter.
Size K UK/AU, 5⅛ US/CA, 50 FR/RU, 15¾ DE
Provenance: Acquired from an established BNTA and AIAA registered ancient art dealer. Formerly from the Albert Ward collection.
See Cf. Evans, J., English Posies and Posy Rings, OUP, London, 1931, p.51, for the same inscription, 'me' spelt 'mee'; cf. The British Museum, museum number 1961,1202.413, for this inscription with spelling variation, dated 17th-18th century; museum number AF.1286, for this inscription with spelling variation, dated 16th-17th century AD; cf. The Portable Antiquities Scheme Database, id.LVPL-AD7284, for similar, dated 1550-1650.
Important Notes: This item is excluded from our Free Resizing service. As an ancient artefact we will not alter it.