Walking stick with ivory skull, London, England, 1740-1840

Made:
1740-1840 in England and London
maker:
Unknown

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Buy this image as a print 

License this image for commercial use at Science and Society Picture Library

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Buy this image as a print 

License this image for commercial use at Science and Society Picture Library

Creative Commons LicenseThis image is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 Licence

Buy this image as a print 

License this image for commercial use at Science and Society Picture Library

Creative Commons LicenseThis image is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 Licence

Buy this image as a print 

License this image for commercial use at Science and Society Picture Library

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Physician's walking stick, bamboo, pommel consists of carved ivory skull with moveable eyes and jaw, English, 1740-1840

This walking stick is made from bamboo and topped with a carved ivory skull. Pressing a button at the back of the skull makes the jaw open and the eyes move. There are hallmarks on the neck of the stick which indicate it was made of silver, in London, by a Frederick Brasted.

The walking stick once belonged to a physician. It may be a signifier of his profession, but it may also have acted as a ‘memento mori’. This literally means a reminder of death. Memento mori remind people about the shortness of life and the inevitability of death. They come in different forms, including rings, brooches and clocks. They are usually decorated with imagery relating to death such as skulls and skeletons. You could be forgiven for worrying if you saw this while lying on your sick bed.

Details

Category:
Surgery
Object Number:
A121255
Materials:
bamboo, ferrule, copper, ? material
type:
walking stick
taxonomy:
  • furnishing and equipment
  • tools & equipment
status:
Loan: Wellcome Trust

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