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Picturing a World

One ring to bind them

As the year wanes and fireside reading appeals, I take pleasure in some of my favorite fantasy novels, Tolkien's Lord of the Rings among them. A notice that the engraved medieval ring pictured here will be auctioned on November 29th tipped me off to the whole category of love rings or poesy rings—rings with inscriptions meant to be enhanced by being worn against the skin. This one, for instance, has a French inscription that can be translated, "As I hold your faith, hold mine." Rather different from Sauron's ring! Yet I suspect Tolkien had seen such things and bent them to imaginative use. For another example, click here. For a goldsmith's history of "posy rings," click here. And for a collection of medieval rings at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, click here.

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