Posy Ring, “No Cheigne in Vertues Choyse”
Rings with amatory mottos and inscriptions were known as “posy rings,” a term which derives from the term poetry or poésie. They were well established by the Tudor and Elizabethan periods, and they feature in the plays of William Shakespeare, such as in Hamlet (III, 2, 162) “Is this a prologue, or the posy of a ring” and in The Merchant of Venice. Throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, posy rings enjoyed great popularity and were customarily exchanged between friends, relatives, and lovers. Sometimes given as a betrothal ring preceding the wedding ceremony (with the appropriate inscription), the posy ring became a symbol of consent of marriage to be contracted either inside or outside of a church setting. The message was concealed inside the hoop, its secret content secret known only to the giver and recipient of the ring.
This delicate gold band with D-section has engraved foliage on the exterior with two flowers on either side. Engraved on the interior of the hoop is the motto “No Cheigne in Vertues Choyse” (No change in virtue’s choice). The ring is in good wearable condition.
The motto appears to be rare. Joan Evans (Evans 1931, p. 82) records only one example from the 1674 edition of the commonplace book Loues Garland, or Posies for Rings, Hand-Kerchers, and Gloues, and such pretty Tokens that Louers send their Loues, (first published 1624), second edition entitled Cupids Posies (1674). For further information on posy rings, see Dalton 1912, pp. 174 ff.; Scarisbrick 2007, pp. 74 ff., Taylor and Scarisbrick 1978, and Oman 1974, pp. 39 ff.