In 1750 William Dacey published a book titled "The Best and Compleatest Academy of Compliments yet extant. Being wit and mirth improv'd by the most elegant expressions used in the art of courtship...", one of which was the phrase 'By This Token You Are Bespoken'.
'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 and outer filling. There is some usual wear commensurate with the ring's age to the band. 1.20 grams, 18.10mm overall, 16.44mm internal diameter.
Size J½ UK/AU, 5 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, Essex, UK; acquired on the UK antiques market between 1974-1985.
See Cf. Evans, J., English Posies and Posy Rings, OUP, London, 1931, p.28, for this posie. See the Portable Antiquities Scheme Database, id. LON-AA2432, for a worn ring which appears to have three rows of dimples also, dated 16th-17th century AD.
Important Notes: This item is excluded from our Free Resizing service. As an ancient artefact we will not alter it.
A D-Shape wedding ring if flat on the inside and rounded on the outside to provide a close, comfortable fit.
Want to know more? See our Wedding Ring Buying Guide.