1600 / 1610, London

1600 / 1610, London

15.1 cm (diameter)
12.4 cm (diameter)
19 cm (height)
1.896 kg (weight)
Production time
Production place


British Galleries: This casket may have held medicines and perfumes in small containers. Carved English alabaster had long been associated with high status. It was smooth and fine-grained and had been used for luxury objects of all sizes since Medieval times. [27/03/2003] Object Type
Luxurious personal items made from precious metals and hardstones were used to show taste and social status.

History & Design
Alabaster was highly prized and often transformed into spectacular objects by the addition of gold or silver-gilt mounts. (The same mounts are found on a mother-of-pearl bowl also in the Museum's collection.) The taste for these small, precious objects lasted throughout the 16th century and into the early 17th century.

Material & Making
Ancient alabaster is a hard, carbonate mineral, often called 'oriental' alabaster as it was said to have come from the town of Alabastron, in Egypt. This example is made from 'modern' alabaster, a soft, finely-grained variety of gypsum, or limestone. It probably originated in the large deposits found in Britain, in the Midlands, which were extensively worked from the 14th century. The soft material is easy to carve and can be highly polished. The Dyneley Casket