Messages of romantic love on rings and mottoes or inscriptions in prose or verse on plain gold bands go back to the Middle Ages. In the Elizabethan period they find mention in the plays of William Shakespeare, including Hamlet and the Merchant of Venice. By the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, posy rings, as they were also known, enjoyed great popularity, their name deriving from the term poesie or poetry. These tokens of affection were exchanged between friends, lovers and family and were increasingly given at betrothals or wedding ceremonies. The message of love was often concealed inside the hoop, touching the finger, and its content only known to the giver and the wearer of the ring. 

Heavy gold hoop with D-section, plain on the exterior and on the interior engraved with the inscription "+ NO CUTTE TO UNKINDNES" (Do not speak of unkindness). The ring is in good wearable condition.


This rare and unusual motto with slightly varied spelling "No cut to unkindnes" appears on a posy ring in the British Museum, London (Dalton 1912, no. 1268). The posy is also quoted in Evans, 1931, p.37. The motto is puzzling and can be interpreted in different ways. In the sixteenth century the term "cutte" means to speak, and "unkindness" derives from the Middle English (1200-1250) and is often found in the plays of William Shakespeare and the literature of his contemporaries. Unkindness as we understand it today, appears in 1599 in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar (Act III, Scene 2, 183). However, the use of the term unkindness in 1603, in Othello (Act IV, Scene2, 158) "Unkindness may do much/And his unkindness may defeat my life/ But never taint my love" may give a clue to the posy of this ring as a form of wanted affection. Whatever unkindness is experienced, love will triumph. For a history of posy rings with extensive list of posies, see Evans, 1931 and Anon., A Garland of Love: A Collection of Posy-Ring Mottoes, London 1907. For further information on their use, see Dalton 1912, pp. 174 ff.; Scarisbrick 2007, pp. 74 ff., Taylor and Scarisbrick 1978, and Oman 1974, pp. 39 ff.


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