Meuse region or northern France, end of the 13th century, inv. no. DS014
Copper, gold-plated, cast, chased and leather, cut (cuir ciselé)
Finely cast, detailed medallions adorn a gold-plated copper ball made up of two hollow halves: the four evangelists and their symbolic animals are depicted in eight circles. John, unusually, has a hooded cloak and monk’s tonsure. In the 13th century, this allusion to the evangelist as the patron saint of the clergy was very popular among clergymen and supports the theory that the ball was made specifically for a cleric.
Filled with hot charcoal or heated sand, it was used to warm his hands. Hand-warmers of this kind bear rare testimony to mediaeval life, as only ten similar examples have survived. The Halberstadt hand-warmer is the only one to have retained its case, made out of cut leather. Its decoration of heraldic shields and animals indicates that it was created individually for a high-ranking cleric of the Halberstadt cathedral chapter.