Rings 27.03.2013

“All I refuse & thee I chuse” Silver Posie/Posey Ring

17th Century Posy Ring Silver

With the sentiment of posie rings being popular today for their loving sentiment, it’s no surprise that their use as a love token is still relevant today. The example shown here reflects an original ring found in the Fitzwilliam Museum and can be purchased today as a sentimental token. Replication of a ring that provides a catalyst for sentimentality is more fundamental than modern rings replicated to generate a profit; here, the messaging is the key element. Where a mourning jewel may have a skull or memento mori symbol added as a marriage to an original piece or a new piece that is made with the symbols to try and obfuscate for profit, sentimental jewels are still produced today for their very sentiment. Love, and the connection between two people, resonates beyond the intrinsic value of a jewel. When the value of gold or diamonds reduces, the message of love will still hold its value.

17th Century Posy Ring

This leads us back to the original inception of the message – “all I refuse & thee I chuse”. Where does a society develop that message in their personal lives to give this as a message of love, or even betrothal? The original ring dates from within the 17th century and this comes after the Protestant Reformation which challenged the Catholic nature of marriage under god. The focus here puts the nature of marriage under the government, with the English Puritans of the 17th century stating that “marriage to be no sacrament” as an Act of Parliament. A justice of the peace could perform the wedding ritual, rather than a minister. This was reversed during the Restoration and Lord Hardwicke’s Act in 1753, but the thought that had bred the concept was permeated throughout a society which was swiftly adapting to new ideas and concepts of challenge. Where the ring states the concept of ‘I’, it brings the value of choice to the individual, rather than the ordained choice of a divine being to establish a union between two people. Being ‘chosen’ creates the basis for this relationship status, as there is the nature of others being considered for marriage and relationship development.

This brings us back to the nature of the posie/poesy ring and how it relates to social status. Chapbooks, pamphlets which related to lower society through their cheap price and content, were often the basis for the sentiment found in a posie ring. These sentiments were relatable for a society that was beginning to find a voice and through technologies that could utilise paper and print in a way that disseminated thought, be it religious, political or simply entertaining, and  this was the underpinning for new thoughts on relationships which looked outside of the geographic region for insight into value systems. There’s also the Latin influence in the use of the ampersand in this ring, which brings it a level above the basic phonetic structure of the posie. Rather than being written in a way that an accent could accommodate its meaning, this ring is a step above its nature, for many posies were created as basic love tokens.

Further Reading:
“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
Dedication: All I refuse & thee I chuse