A Brief History of Poesy Rings
While the spelling varies, a poesy (posey, posy, posie) ring is a simple item - usually a gold ring with an inscription on the inside of a short poem or saying. These rings hold great sentimental value and were often given as love tokens or friendship symbols, which is reflected in the nature of the inscriptions (a poesy is a little poem).
This blog post comes after extensive research I did when designing custom wedding bands for my partner and myself for our upcoming wedding. While my ring needed to fit around my lovely engagement ring, I was given free reign with the ring I carved for my partner, and together we chose a poesy ring.
Happily, there are numerous examples of poesy rings in Museums and collections. The Ashmolean states that poesy rings were popular as early as the 5th century, with museum pieces often being dated between the 1500s to the 1800s. While we don't see poesy rings much now, any ring with a sentimental inscription could be considered a part of this long tradition.
Incredible collections in UK museums exist at the Ashmolean in Oxford and the V&A in London. I've included some that particularly appealed to me here. Scroll down for a list of other poesy inscriptions, and get in touch if you'd like to commission your own love token poesy ring.
List of Poesy inscriptions (WIP)
As God decreed so wee agreed
A token of love
Fortunate If Favoured
ALLE MY TRVST
Two but one hart till death vs depart
All I refues and thee i chus [All I refuse and you I choose]
Keepe Faith till Death
Thine most sure till death
I chuse thee till life refuse me
My loue to thee shall endles be
two harts soe tide let none devide
This and the giver is thine for ever
Be true in heart till death depart
my heart and I untill I die
(Two hearts) unighted lives Contented
NOT THE GIFT BVT THE GIVER
Love til death
If grace unite love will be right
My heart and eye until I die (where the heart and eye are pictures)
Let likinge Laste
Not the value but my love
You never knew a heart so true
I will keep adding to my list of poesy inscriptions but there are many, many examples each with their own inscription - if you'd like to commission a custom poesy ring from me, if you like one of the quotes above, like your own or simply want initials in your wedding bands then let me know!