Posy ring with ‘MON COER AVES’
Wearable poetry, a long English tradition expressed through ‘posy’ rings. Here, an affectionate message from lover’s past: ‘You have my heart’, interspersed with flowers, possibly roses.
Wide gold band, plain on the interior and engraved on the exterior with the black letter inscription in French: MON COER AVES (You have my heart). Interspersed between the words are three, four-petalled flowers and feathery sprigs of foliage. Minor indentations along the edge due to age and wear. The ring is in good wearable condition.
Mottoes, inscriptions, and messages of romantic love on plain, gold bands go back to the Middle Ages. Beginning in the thirteenth century, ring brooches and rings were given as love tokens. The language of love was expressed in words and amatory motifs, such as here with the rosette-like flowers, possibly symbolizing roses – the flower associated with love.
The name “posy ring” is derived from poesie meaning poetry. Inscriptions along the hoop are poetic expressions of love and affection, as on this ring “Mon Coer Aves” (You have my heart). French was the language of love and diplomacy at the time; however, the tradition of posy rings was truly British. These were exchanged either between friends, relatives, or lovers preceding matrimony or as a sign of betrothal.
Joan Evans records nine variations of the motto with different spellings (Evans 1931, p. 11). For the inscription cf. examples in the British Museum (Dalton 1912, nos. 742, 752, 1009), and for the ring design dating between 1400-1500, cf. rings in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (Bury 1984, Plate 27; Church 2017, p. 15, fig. 7); British Museum (Dalton 1912, nos. 939, 942) and Griffin Collection (Scarisbrick 2021, nos. 5, 10).
For a history of posy rings with extensive examples ranging from the medieval period to eighteenth century, see: Scarisbrick 2021 and further information on posies: Evans, 1931; Anon., A Garland of Love: A Collection of Posy-Ring Mottoes, London 1907; Dalton 1912, pp. 174 ff.; Scarisbrick 2007, pp. 74 ff., Taylor and Scarisbrick 1978; Oman 1974, pp. 39 ff.