Carved from a single piece of ivory, the model of a human skull sits upon crossbones. Not much is known about this model, but it is thought that it is a memento mori – literally a reminder of death and the shortness of life. (The skull was the symbol of death from the 1500s onwards.) The object was part of the private collection of Dr Noel Hamonic (d. 1928), purchased by Henry Wellcome in July 1928 for £803. Another part of the collection had been purchased in June 1928.
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The skeleton of the head of a vertebrate animal, including the brain case, or cranium, and the bones and cartilages of the face and mouth. The skull can be subdivided into two parts: the cranium and the mandible. The human skull is made up from 22 bones.
Glossary: memento mori
Symbols intended to remind the viewer of death. Memento mori are often objects such as skulls or hourglasses, but can also be written inscriptions.