Alms Box in the form of a Memento Mori
18th century, Carved and gilded wood, iron
This gilded wooden box with a skull and crossbones was used by the faithful to deposit alms inside churches or places of prayer. It has an opening at the top for the insertion of coins, while at the back, an iron flap allows for the extraction of the coin drawer, also made of iron. The rectangular box is made of gilded wood with acanthus leaf decorations at the four corners and the papier-mâché skull and bones can be lifted, thanks to a pin placed at the back of the skull, to allow coins to be deposited. At the point where the bones meet, underneath the skull, a faint bas-relief decoration of a flower can be seen, symbolising the transitory beauty of human life. This is precisely what the Memento Mori signifies: a reminder of the imminence of death and the precarity of human life.