This charming games box is a fine example of a distinct group of small bone caskets displaying secular motifs in low relief against hatched backgrounds and intarsia checkerboards to the underside. Today's scholarly consensus argues that these caskets were produced by workshops in the southern Netherlands. Their preferred motifs – scenes of courtship and hunting – indicate a possible function within marriage negotiations. While it is traditionally thought that these caskets were in fact used to store gaming pieces and to play on, this use has been called into question, and the checkerboard should perhaps be seen as symbolic in most cases. Depicting musicians, animals, and the 'fountain of love', the present casket compares both iconographically and stylistically to numerous examples held in public collections, such as two caskets in the V&A (inv. nos. 4660-1859 and 6747-1860) and one at the musée du Louvre (inv. no. MRR 80). For the motif of a tree in a basket on the lid, see a casket in the Metropolitan Museum (inv. no. 54.135).
D. Gaborit-Chopin (ed.), Ivoires médiévaux, Ve-XVe siècle, cat. Musée du Louvre, Paris, 2003, pp. 528-530; P. Williamson and G. Davies, Medieval Ivory Carvings: 1200-1550, cat. Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2014, Part II, pp. 654-655, 677-685