Small caskets in a variety of materials were a popular feature of European domestic life in the 15th and 16th centuries and were often given as tokens of affection. The present casket depicts a man and woman to the lid and could possibly been a gift to celebrate marriage. In Germany, steel was a favoured material for the production of these caskets the surface of which was then etched to create decorative motifs. This involved covering the surface of the casket with a material such as wax, and then scraping away the wax in all the background areas. These exposed areas of the steel were then bathed in acid, which 'bit' into the surface while the areas protected by the wax remained untouched. The wax was then removed, and a form of black ink was rubbed into the etched areas to provide a greater contrast with the reserved areas of the design.