An antique sewing box is a lovely reminder of a woman’s past, and is often found in collections as a family memento. These boxes are frequently made of wood, metal or brass and are usually constructed with great care.
Work-boxes were a popular form antique sewing box of furniture in the late 18th and early 19th century. Traditionally, they were made from rare woods or precious metals inlaid with gems and mother of pearl.
They were used to store tools and notions, including needles, scissors, bodkins, buttons, hooks, eyes and more. The tools were wrapped tightly so that they would not rust, and the notions were kept dry to prevent them from deteriorating.
Bringing History to Life: The Timeless Beauty of an Antique Sewing Box
During this time, many antique boxes were manufactured in exotic materials like tortoiseshell and silk. These were a popular choice for a woman’s box because they were both beautiful and functional, as they could hold all of her tools.
Sewing Tool Storage
A well-stocked box should contain scissors, stilettos (tools with a sharp round pointed piece of steel held on a handle), pincushions, pencils, fold knives or other small tools. It should also have a set of tools for cutting button holes, as this was an important part of garment construction.
In the 19th century, as industrialization took hold and a market was created for less expensive and more practical sewing storage, more affordable versions of work boxes were produced. These were more rectangular and in a lighter blond shell, sometimes with gesso under the shell to give it a green colour. They had lift out trays lined with silk or paper, and often had tortoiseshell lids on some of the sections.