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Tea Party Winners: Carla Gade's winner is Becky Dempsey, Andrea Boeshaar's winner Caryl Kane, Gina Welborn's winner Jasmine A., Carrie Fancett Pagels' winners book copy -- Lynda Edwards, teacup and saucer -- Wendy Shoults

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Old World Romance...Posy Rings

I've always been enamored with old world romance, courting customs, and such. In the current book I'm writing, my hero gives my heroine a posy ring. I'd heard of these rings but for some reason their history and poignancy didn't stick till I found that they fit well in this particular story. 

Currently, posy rings from the 16th-18th century are going for thousands of dollars at auction. I'd love to have one but they're a bit out of my budget! Fire-gilded posy rings are particularly valuable. Fire-gilding is an ancient technique involving gold being melded to metal at high heat, thus resulting in unequaled color and durability.

Rings like these were usually worn on a thumb before the wedding and switched to the traditional third finger upon marriage. 


Early rings were often engraved in French or Latin on the outside. Later they were engraved in English on the inside. Here are some poignant, posy phrases:

AS GOD SAW FIT OUR KNOTT IS KNITT
AS GOLD IS PURE LET LOVE INDURE
AS IN THEE HAVE MADE MY CHOYCE SO IN THE LORD LET US REJOYCE
BE KIND IN HARTE
BE THOU MINE AS I AM THINE
FEARE GOD AND LYE ABED TILL NOONE
DESIRE HATH SET MY HARTE ON FIRE



I won't tell you what is inscribed in the posy ring given by my hero. Here's hoping you'll read the book;)


Do you have heirloom jewelry that is especially meaningful to you? Would you like a posy ring? If so, what would it say?

37 comments:

  1. Oh, I love posy rings and am so glad you are using them in your novel! I have one on my Pinterest page that says: "Twas God to thee directed me" and I think that is just perfect. I didn't know how they were worn. Very interesting to learn about. Thanks, Laura!

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    1. I had a feeling posy rings were no secret to you, dear Carla! And I just love the one on your Pinterest page!! The inscription is perfect and true of our own love lives:) I wish I'd had more time to research the sayings - there are so many and my head started swimming after a time. I got so tickled at some of them! I can't imagine a suitor giving me anything that remotely says "Fear God and Lie Abed Till Noon." !!

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  2. Forgot to mention the heirloom jewelry...I have a beautiful cameo necklace that my father got in the early 1950's in Turkey when he was in the navy. He gave it to my Mom and she finally relinquished it to me a few months ago...after much begging. LOL!

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    1. Oh, your cameo sounds beautiful - a true family heirloom. And how neat that it has a bit of an exotic flair being from Turkey, the land of history and mystery!! Bless your Mom for sharing the JOY:) I can tell you treasure it so it must make her heart glad.

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    2. Yes, and it really meant more to me than her to have it since she and my father are divorced. I'd have never asked for it if it were given to her by my step-dad. It is meaningful to me and so charming.

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  3. my heirloom jewelry is an emerald ring that use to belong to my great grandmother. When she passed away it got passed down to me because the two of us shared a birth month. It's old fashioned but I wouldn't trade it for anything.

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    1. Carissa, Emeralds are so beautiful - I can just imagine how lovely your great grandmother's ring must be!! And very meaningful that you two shared a birth month. Like you, my old-fashioned jewelry is my favorite and I wouldn't trade it for anything either. The 2 lockets passed down to me from my great grandmother are always out on my dresser and I never get tired of looking at them. One is engraved with a little church and the other is engraved with roses and has their pictures within. Oh, to have met them!!

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  4. I love the detail about the posy ring starting off on the thumb. I have my grandmother's earrings. When my uncle died, my aunt went into deep mourning and gave away all her jewellery. She gave me her pearl necklace, given to her by her mother-in-law, my other grandma. I'm so blessed to have these tokens. :)

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    1. Dorothy, I love those little details, too, as they're so different than the way we do things today. It's interesting, too, that wedding rings weren't used much till the 19th-century and then were often worn on the middle finger! Oh, your heirloom jewelry sounds heavenly!! I'm a pearl girl myself and wish I owned a real strand. And those ear-rings sound lovely, too. Glad you mentioned deep mourning as there are so many interesting customs surrounding that. In my current WIP I had to remember to strip my character of all her jewelry after her daughter died - something I'd failed to do in the first draft! Bless you for your comments!

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  5. These rings are so fun! And I love learning a new little historical tidbit. Can't wait to read about it in your book. :) My heirloom piece is an amethyst necklace I inherited from my grandmother. We were both born in February and that is our birthstone. What's even more fun is thinking about someday passing it down to my niece, who was born on my birthday! I love the continuity of that.

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    1. Anne, I so love your generous heart:) You are already thinking about passing down that treasure to your niece!! You and Carissa share the same birth months with your grands and that is wonderful. I forget I share the same one as my great grand and was even named after her - sadly she died just a few days before I was born. I imagine having a niece born on our day was the very best gift!!

      BTW, I hope you have your catalog. I was going to FB you yesterday but my day crashed when I had to go to town with hubs... Anyway, soon, I hope!!

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  6. I had heard of these before but did not really know what they were. Now I do!! This is so interesting! I would love to have one of these, but the price could be a problem. Thank you!

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    1. Oh, you're so right! The price is a problem for me, too! The posys I looked at up for auction are going for several thousand dollars though I'm sure it varies greatly from site to site, depending on the quality and age, etc. I think the most remarkable thing about them is that the engraving remains as enduring as the day they were made! My own wedding ring was engraved and even after a few years the writing is no more. Oh for a posy ring!!

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  7. How beautiful! I love these :) I really didnt know much about this custom, the one about 'lie abed til noon' made me chuckle. I cant imagine anyone back then got to sleep in, haha! What treasures these are, especially those that have survived for centuries!

    I have a few heirloom rings-- one is a square cut ruby and the other is a tiny child's cameo ring, both belonging to my great grandmother. I love having them! She gave me the little cameo ring when I was a little girl, and Im so glad I never lost it!

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  8. Heather, I'm still chuckling about that particular phrase, too;) Like you, who on earth was abed till noon back then, I'm wondering!! Not anyone of repute, surely!!

    I love hearing about your rings - the ruby sounds beautiful and I've always loved cameos! I think even as a child you must have valued the significance of it so kept it close. I had a little dogwood ring when I was small and lost it - something I still think about! So I bought one a couple of years ago as an adult and am determined to not lose it!

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  9. I have never heard of these rings. Can't wait to read about one in your book! Thanks for sharing the history.
    I do have a ring from my great grandmother, the main stone is topaz. I always knew I would own it one day as I was born in her birth month. It is such a treasure. As I read the comment above it reminded me of my ponderings about who I will pass it to.
    Jennie

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    1. Jennie, Your topaz ring sounds beautiful - it's such a pretty stone!! I am amazed at how many of us were born in our grands birth months! I've only lately been thinking of who to pass certain thing down to. I imagine you some delightful nieces and nephews to consider:) Not to mention your own children some day:)

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  10. Laura, I may have included one of these rings in a story without even knowing what they were (you may remember?). Were posy rings ever made of silver, or only gold? What a fun post. Love all those sayings, and ye olde spellings!

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    1. Good question, Lori! I do think some were made in silver but the preference was gold. I remember your wedding scene - so lovely! I had forgotten the ring though! Yes, the spellings are so quaint, a reminder that uniform spelling didn't exist till the 19th-century or so. I actually prefer the old style and use it then sometimes get in trouble with my editors;) Thanks so much for being here!

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  11. How neat! I've never heard of posy rings before, but it's a really cool, romantic, custom. And I love the inscriptions too-makes the ring so unique and specific to your relationship...I can't wait to read how you incorporate this into your story and also to find out what sweet words will adorn the inside of one particular posy ring... :)

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    1. Whoops, I am missing that reply button this morning. Please see below, dear Christina!!

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  12. Oh Christina, I was so hoping you would come by:) You are a romantic at heart like moi! It was really neat to be able to slip a posy ring into this second Ballantyne book. Only I had quite a time deciding which inscription to use! I hope you love the story when it comes out. I'm feeling a bit sad today as I wrap this one up. But knowing it will live in the hearts of readers makes it less touchy. Bless you for being here!

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  13. I had never heard of posy rings before reading this, but it is such a lovely idea. The inscriptions are wonderful. I'm going to share this article with both of my unmarried twenty-something children. Who knows? Posy rings may made a comeback! My great grandmother had a gold ring that held two matching rubies surrounded by diamonds. My mother acquired the ring and gave it to me to keep for my daughter.

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    1. Oh, so glad you're going to share this info, Cynthia. I wish I'd known about these for my own wedding day! I hope they do make a comeback as this is one sweet tradition! I imagine your great-grandmother's ring is a treasure. Rubies and diamonds are such a striking contrast. I know your daughter will be over the moon about that when the time comes:)

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  14. Hi Laura! Wow, I've never heard of posy rings but I want one too! I think inscriptions on jewelry are so romantic - like you're walking around with a secret message :) Someday, Lord willing, when I get married I want something written on the inside of mine and my husband's wedding rings. How ridiculously romantic would it be to have a special message engraved that the other doesn't know about until the rings are presented before the pastor?! Even a scripture verse that has a special meaning to you would be nice. The possibilities are endless!

    The other day I came across a pic on Pinterest that showed rings with a raised engraving on the inside, so when you took it off you had the imprint of the words left on your finger. Very cool also!

    Gosh, you always seem to find the sweet, pretty, romantic things of history. Can't wait to read about posy rings in your upcoming book! That would be the second installment of the Ballantyne Legacy, right? Happy writing, dear friend!

    Blessings,
    Amanda

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    1. Oh, so, so happy you're here, Amanda!! I must admit your idea to have the rings specially engraved and only revealed at the ceremony is positively novel-worthy:) That is the ultimate in romantic, I'd say...! And that's so neat about the imprint of the words on your finger - I've never heard of that before. Isn't Pinterest addictive?! I found the wedding dress for this scene over there and it's so fun seeing it enlarged and oohing and aahing over all the little details. Yes, this is Ballantyne Book 2 which is tentatively titled, Love's Awakening. A bit less dramatic sounding than Love's Reckoning;) It's the second generation of Ballantynes who are about your age. I'll even tell you their names - Elinor, Andra, Peyton and Ansel. Some are of Scots origin since their father is from Highland Perthshire. It's nearly as much fun thinking up names as book titles and wedding scenes! Hope my editors let me keep the above but one is never sure of titles...

      I hope you are having a great week - and spring is the air there!!

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  15. Dear Laura,

    I have not heard of posy rings before but I would love one. I think I would like mine to say Love Never Fails. I would still want my man of 20yrs to give me one. He is my real life hero. I think it would be a great tradition to resurrect!

    I have a necklace that was my great-grandmothers. It is was broken but I took some of the beads from it and incorporated into a bracelet I made. It is clear beads when light hits them they act as a prism. I love it!!

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    1. I am so heartened by your talk of your hero-husband, dear Stacie!! He must be very special. I think a good husband just gets better in time. Mine sure does:) I hope he can say the same of me - maybe on a good day - lol! Love the inscription you thought of as it's a blessed echo of Scripture and true love.

      I think antique jewelry has a certain sparkle and luster modern counterparts don't. I can just imagine those beads and how they reflect the light - so many colors, I imagine! Lovely to think of it being handed down to your daughter or granddaughter when the time comes...

      Bless you for being here!

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  16. Great post! Oh I'd love one based on my Soul's Journey MS - Two of us on one journey. That would represent how I feel about my marriage, too! I treasure my new ring for our 25th anniversary and the diamond band for our tenth and hope our daughter or grandchild will enjoy them in the future.

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    1. Carrie, You have a DH that is your real-life hero, I know! I even love his name! 25 years is a huge milestone. I married Randy so late I told him I'd be gone long before our 50th so we'd better celebrate early;) I might make it to our 25th... It's really poignant to think of passing these things down to future loved ones. I wonder how many posy rings are still in possession of the same families? Not many, I'm guessing, and that's sad. Maybe that's why they are at auction. If I had one, I wouldn't be selling it, that's for sure!

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  17. Oh, Laura, what a FUN post!!! Especially all the beautiful inscriptions!! Like Heather and you, I LOVE the one that says, "FEARE GOD AND LYE ABED TILL NOONE" -- TOO FUNNY!!!

    You and your post prompted me to look inside of our own wedding rings as well -- my hubby's and mine -- because I'm ashamed to say I forgot what we wrote!! My inscription inside of Keith's ring is not real original: Babe, I'll love you forever; and his inside of mine is: K&J ... loving forever. Well, at least we got the "forever" part down, although after 34 years, it seems like just yesterday. :)

    And, not to make anyone jealous, mind you, but let me just go on record as saying that I had the privilege of reading Laura's upcoming epic novel, Love's Reckoning, and it is hands-down, one of the best books I have ever read in the CBA, if not the best!!

    Great post, my friend!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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    1. Julie, Oh, you are simply the BEST ever, my friend:)!! I just got back from Seattle visiting a historic house and having a tea party so apologize for being so late! I love what you shared about your and Keith's rings - am so glad you have your inscriptions as ours rubbed off within the first 2 years or so! I can't believe it's been 34 years for the 2 of you as you've still got the passion;) Which just proves true love improves over time...

      I'm still laughing myself about FGALATN! Not quite the romantic posy I had in mind - wonder what the sweetheart at the end of that ring thought about that?!

      And many, many thanks for your gracious words about LR - you give me a huge dose encouragement and I'll be forever grateful!!!

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  18. I have my Great-Grandmother's 18 caret gold wedding band. I wore it at my wedding as my "something old." Her fingers were larger than mine and it fit my thumb, so... a little like a posy ring. :)

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    1. Pegg, It's heartening to see that you treasure something from your great-grandmother, too. I think, if they knew, they'd be very pleased. Your ring reminds me of my mom who was wearing a heirloom ring and lost it in the rosebed while weeding one day. She never did find it! Glad yours is on your thumb as it seems it wouldn't slip off as easily, perhaps. I think wearing them on the thumb is whimsical and delightful:)

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  19. I don't have a posey ring, but I do have my grandmother's engagement ring. When she gave it to me, she assured me it wasn't "real" being only 10k gold and whatever the predecessor to cubic zirconia is. But's 100% REAL to me. My grandfather died when I was six months old and I love to think of him picking out this ring . . . And I wrote it into one of my novels. The hero's mother takes it off her own hand so her son can give it to his love. Sigh.

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  20. I agree with you that posy rings are most romantic. Since I know that marriages during the Pre-Regency era were mostly arranged, learning about the inscriptions in posy rings make me believe that love still ruled them. Isn’t it every girl’s dream to have her beloved give her a ring with lines such as “be thou mine as I am thine”? *sigh*

    Regards,
    Maude Quintana

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