Key Ring with Lovers


Not on view

During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, particularly in the North, it was common for mistresses of the house to carry the keys for their numerous chests, cupboards, and their doors on rings suspended from their belts or girdles by a chain or cord.

Sometimes the key ring was attached to one of several chains hanging from a large broochlike device fastened directly below the belt. This device was used not only to attach key rings and other items but also to pin up trailing skirts.

This key ring, though possibly carried separately, may once have been attached in the fashion described above. The small sculpture of the courting couple would have served at the finial or handle. Though key rings with non-figurative terminals exist from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, at least two other key rings with very similar figures have survived. This particular example is opened by detaching the screw that links the ring to the figures. It is possible that originally a small bolt or cap covered the exposed end of the screw.

Key Ring with Lovers, Copper alloy, German

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