Rings 15.04.2013

“Let’s Live and Die In Unity” – A Perfect Sentiment in a Ring

17th Century Posy Ring

Posie/poesy rings are the mostly insightful pieces of jeweller for interpersonal relationships of the 16th and 17th centuries. In a time of cultural development when the challenges to authority and standardised concepts of faith and the monarchy hadn’t been as fundamentally understood as they were int he 18th century, these rings tell tales of love between two people and their values.

Many of the posie rings had their inscriptions copied from chapbooks (highly produced, low cost books with entertainment, politics and religious messages), as the populace hadn’t standardised the English language, with Latin being the officially written text. Here, the words spoken between two people are important; they’re not judged through their dictation or grammar through being a language spoken (or written) under the roof of a church, but the very natural words spoken between two people.

17th Century Posy Ring

Love, as a concept, is the connection of people through the mutually shared values of affection and relationship. This is, in itself, a connection through experience. Having these jewels state a message that would be given for the values of the time which would hold dear are remarkably close to the values we hold today. Where many of our common, Western, values stem from the mid 19th century (Christmas, marriage, colours of mourning), there is the essential experience of that loving connection which transcends these values and turns them into an affectation – the hidden message between two people tells the loudest tale.

In this ring, we can see the values of living and dying in unity, which go even beyond the common ‘fidelity’ messages of other poesy rings. As this ring has a plain band, rather than an 18th century embellished one, we see that it is an earlier ring of the 17th century and holds a value system of life and death. The message here is ‘unity’ and that is the core understanding of the relationship. There is no fidelity that is a promise of remaining true within the relationship for its longevity, but the simple connection between two people in order to live a life together.

Ecclesiastically, the message of the ring doesn’t hold any judgement by a deity for the outcome of a successful relationship. This is very important, as a ring from several generations earlier would have their values classified under the dominance of god. Challenges within society, via the religious turmoil that led to the establishment of the Anglican Church and the English Civil War, made the immediacy of a relationship the flesh and blood that was present at the time, not a union that would be considered after death.

Further Reading:
“In Christ and Thee My Comfort Be” Posie/Poesy Ring
“Be true in hart” and Honour a Posie/Poesy Ring
“God forever bless us together” A White Enamel Posy Ring
A Good Life and a Happy Death in a Posie/Poesy Ring
> “Hearts United Live Contented” 17th Century Posie Ring
‘Let vertue bee a guide’ 17th Century Posie Ring
Posie Rings From the 17th Century

Courtesy: Barbara Robbins
Country: England
Year: mid 17th Century
Dedication: Let’s Live and Die In Unity