Pocket watch concealed in a memento mori

Made:
1700-1936 in Unknown place
maker:
Unknown

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

Science Museum Group
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum, London.

Science Museum Group
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum, London.

Science Museum Group
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum, London.

Science Museum Group
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum, London.

Science Museum Group
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum, London.

Science Museum Group
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum, London.

Science Museum Group
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum, London.

Silver model of a human skull which opens up to show a pocket watch inside inscribed with skull and cross bones

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.

On display

Science Museum: Medicine: The Wellcome Galleries

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Details

Category:
Anatomy & Pathology
Object Number:
A103905
Measurements:
overall (closed): 40 mm x 34 mm x 44 mm, .08 kg
overall (open): 40 mm x 34 mm x 78 mm,
type:
pocket watch
taxonomy:
  • furnishing and equipment
  • measuring device - instrument
  • timepiece
  • watch
credit:
Loan, Wellcome Trust

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