During war and the hunt, crossbowmen would carry their projectiles, called bolts, in quivers. More sophisticated bolts, intended for shooting competitions, might be stored and transported in boxes like this one, which is believed to have been made for William IV, Duke of Bavaria.
The lid is inlaid on its outside with scenes from the medieval story of Virgil the Sorcerer, intended as a humorous warning against the "wiles of women." Corresponding inlay on the inside shows a Fountain of Youth and Orpheus playing music to the animals, surrounded by an inscription based on a German drinking song. The maker, Hans Wagner, signed himself Pixenshifter, gunstock maker.
The box in now on view in ESDA's exhibition 'Relative Values: The Cost of Art in the Northern Renaissance' (Gallery 521).
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Box For Crossbow Bolts (Bolzenkasten), Probably Made for William IV, Duke of Bavaria. Hans Wagner the Elder. Munich, dated 1539 (69.199)