A museum-grade mid-17th century Dutch silver marriage coffin or knottekistje, circa 1660.
Raised on solid silver bun feet the miniature coffin is profusely engraved to all faces depicting a courting couple and architecture entwined in scrolling foliage. The reverse of the coffin depicts the last supper, however, if you look closely, you can see a boy stealing food or wine from underneath! Possibly, this is the courting gentleman showing that he had a sense of humour.
The scratch lined moulded top is surmounted with an intricate handle (once gilt) and floral patera to the centre. There are two inscriptions each within a cartouche ‘In Lÿfde Beltact het al’ and ‘Getrouw tot in den doot’ which loosely translates to ‘faithful until the death’ and ‘love is everything’.
Wedding caskets such as this were a speciality of Friesland. Traditionally, a man’s promise of marriage to his future bride and was formal when he presented her with a coin knotted into a costly cloth (knottedoek). This later became a textile bag and then in the seventeenth century, the silver coffin (knottekistje). Though, examples such is this were reserved for the rich and noble.
The Dutch Golden Age in the Netherlands began in circa 1588, when the Dutch Republic was established, to 1672, when the Rampjaar occurred. Dutch trade flourished the most prominent in Europe.
Later struck with two Dutch tax marks in the form of a dolphin.