As I promised yesterday, today I am going to share a little of what I know about Posie rings. A ‘Posie ring’ (sometimes written as posy, posey or poesy) is any ring with an inscription on the outside or inside. Usually they are gold. They were particularly popular in England and France during the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries as lovers’ gifts.
The early posie rings had inscriptions in Norman French and later were written in Latin, French or English. I have not come across them in other languages, although I suspect they must exist. They can be simple bands or they can be set with stones. Tolkien must have gotten his inspiration from the English Posie Ring.
Here are some examples of typical inscriptions. I love the deep romance of these sentiments from a more poetic age. Posie rings are truly a wonderful item to own, to give and to collect.
‘In love abide till death devide’
‘ In thee my choyce I do rejoyce’
‘In thy sight is my delight’
Post-medieval posie ring (1500-1650), found in Rowton Castle area, Shropshire. © Portable Antiquities Scheme and British Museum
Posie rings in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford