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Gilded silver and copper belt and buckles16 century

A string of beads is used as a memory aid in the recitation of the rosary, a multipart devotion to the Virgin. Here, the striking terminal bead announces the constant proximity of death by joining a skull to the pair of vivacious lovers. Such an image is known as a memento mori (reminder of death), as it encourages one to reflect on the transience of life.

Fork. Silver, agate and steel. Origin: Probably England. Dated 1599. 14.9 cm length. The fork first arrived in Italy from Byzantium in the eleventh century and was in regular use there by the fifteenth century. It was a while before the fork was accepted elsewhere in Europe. In 1518 Martin Luther amusingly quipped 'God preserve me from the little forks'!

ForkDate: 15th century Culture: Italian Medium: Iron, copper alloy, partially gilt, niello Dimensions: Overall: 11 9/16 x 1 1/8 x 9/16 in. (29.4 x 2.9 x 1.4 cm)