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Pocket watch concealed in a memento mori, 1700-1936

The engraved Latin phrase ”Tempus fugit” on this small model means ‘time flies’. The object was probably a memento mori, meaning a reminder of death. The tiny silver model of a human skull opens to reveal a pocket watch. This is intricately engraved with multiple skull and crossbones motifs. Such designs were associated with memento mori in the 1800s. The watch is a symbol of escaping time. According to the acqusition records for this object, the watch belonged to Queen Mary (1867-1953), wife of George V. The Queen presented the watch to Henry Wellcome in the 1930s.

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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.

Glossary: pocket watch

Watches meant to be carried in pockets, as opposed, for example to be worn on the wrist or carried on chains.

Glossary: mourning

Trial term S&H