This toothpick is in the form of an enamelled gold arm that holds a curved sickle for picking teeth. At the other end it has a death’s-head finial (the decorative knob). Elaborately decorated toothpicks had a long tradition. In the Middle Ages they were often made from the claws of birds, especially the bittern, a long-legged water bird.
The toothpick shows an ingenious use of the popular contemporary imagery of death: the arm is surmounted by a skull and holds the sickle of Father Time. Once again the message is ‘Remember you must die’.