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Whalebone walking stick, owned by Charles Darwin, England, 1839-1881

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Charles Darwin owned this walking stick. It is made of whalebone, a hard-wearing material suited to walking sticks. The ivory hand grip or the pommel at the top of the stick is a skull. The skull has two glass green eyes. Darwin called his stick his ‘morituri’, a type of ‘memento mori’. These objects remind their owners of the short time people live on earth. Charles Darwin (1809-82) is famous for his theory of evolution outlined in The Origin of Species, first published in 1859. Darwin’s walking stick was collected by Henry Wellcome as a relic of someone Wellcome considered a ‘great man.’

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