History Podcasts

Urartian Jewelry Boxes

Urartian Jewelry Boxes

The French Gratitude Train Jewelry Boxes and Jewelry

Jewelry box
Jewelry-sized, three-drawer mahogany box with inlays of beech or other woods and mother of pearl.

Jewelry box 7144-135
The main design on the top is a central medallion consisting of a pair of winged cupids under a crowned centerpiece. There is a seated figure with an inlaid mother of pearl "1748" that surrounds her.
(detail of top)

Jewelry box 7144-129
Jewelry box with a raised carving of a church on the lid. In white ink on the lid: "Chaudes-Aigues" [warm waters]

Jewelry box 7144-121 [dup2]
Wooden jewelry box with lock and key and a red satin padding inside. Card inside says: " Melle Jeanne Versmée, 113 rue de la Grotte, Lourdes, France HP"
(detail 1) (detail 4) (detail 6) (detail 7)

Tiara 7144-91 [dupl]
Tiara made of twisted wire wrapped with white fiber cord. The top is decorated with small berries and multiple gossamer leaves or wings attached to the ear area.

Bracelet 7144-155
Plastic bracelet with a twisted design. It is a one piece construction with no clasps. The inside of the case says:
"Aux Tortues", "63 Bd Haussmann, Paris"

Brooch consisting of two pieces tied together. The upper pin consists of a gold colored rosette with a center floral motif. It has a straight pin clasp soldered on the back. The Tower piece is a small gold-colored Eiffel Tower with a safety pin attached to the top of the tower.

West Elm Modern Lacquer Jewelry Box

With a unique design, this piece has a lot going for it in terms of both spaciousness and style. This curved, sleek jewelry box has a modern look with a vintage feel, making this the ultimate timeless addition to your vanity. It has a lacquered finish and a pink velvet lining for a more sophisticated feel, but this jewelry box isn’t just for show. This roomy pick is outfitted with ring storage, jewelry compartments, a mirror, and three drawers for all of your accessories.

Pro tip: if you have a minimal stash of jewelry, these drawers are large enough to act as space for you to organize your lipsticks.

The History Of The Jewelry Box

The history of the jewelry box dates back centuries. Throughout the ages, jewelry boxes have been designed and crafted by skilled craftsmen. The Industrial Revolution initiated the concept of mass production. It enabled the middle class of the society to purchase decorative items like the jewelry box along with other essential commodities. This was possible as jewelry boxes could be manufactured in bulk and the cost involved in the mass production was less.

In the early 1900s, mail order catalogs such as Sears, Wards and Marshall Field, enabled the average family to purchase jewelry boxes from home. Even the jewelry stores put on display the latest and trendiest jewelry box designs. Jewel boxes were available in all sizes, from the smallest ring box to handkerchief and even glove sized boxes. The bottom parts of these boxes were as beautiful as the top design.

Antimonial lead was the most common base metal used for the construction of jewelry boxes. Initially, the jewelry boxes were electroplated with copper, and then finished with either gold or silver. Other finishing touches included French Bronze, Roman Gold, Pompeian Gold, French Gray, and Parisian Silver. Ivory finishes were introduced around 1911. Enamel finished boxes lasted longer than gold or silver boxes.

International trade and travel opened new doors to decorative styles all over the globe. During the early 1900s, the most outstanding decorative style of jewelry boxes was Art Nouveau. It was a romantic design that was famous for its flowing, asymmetrical lines, with motifs relating to nature. The Nouveau design reflected flower sentiments on jewelry boxes the four-leaf-clover for good luck, daisies for innocence, roses for love and beauty, and so on.

Numerous American Art Metal manufacturers produced and designed jewelry boxes. Jennings Brothers, Kronheimer and Oldenbusch, Benedict, NB Rogers, The Art Metal Works, Brainard and Wilson patented the premier Nouveau jewelry box designs whereas Weidlich Brothers took several patents on their Colonial designs.

From 1904 to 1918, there was an overwhelming mass production of jewelry boxes. In this era, gold and silver boxes were very common. Silver-plated boxes are considered as antique jewelry boxes and are very rare. Other types of antique jewelry boxes include the souvenir boxes that have commemorative ceramic or photo discs. There are also the ivory finished boxes. Thought they were designed later, they are very hard to find. Their finishes were extremely durable. Hence , these antique jewelry boxes may still be passed down the family generations.

Storing Jewellery

Jewellery storage has always been incredibly important to jewellery lovers- from the earliest incarnations which were more akin to treasure chests jewellery storage was primarily for the safekeeping of expensive items rather than for sustaining the quality of pieces.

Storing jewellery is contemporarily based in keeping jewellery compartmentalised and maintaining order, rather than safety and protection of the pieces. It is rare for modern jewellery boxes to feature a lock mechanism or any form of security feature, as they are usually stored within secure homes in the present day.

However, the method of storing jewellery that you choose is important when buying and collecting antique and vintage jewellery – particularly if your jewellery features gemstones. Although some stones are unaffected, there are some gemstones, such as amethyst, jadeite, quartz and opals, which should not be stored or frequently exposed to direct sunlight and heat.

For owners of these stones, jewellery boxes provide an attractive way to maintain the quality of their jewellery whilst also being used for general storage. In short- the more precious your jewellery is- the more necessary a jewellery box is.

Hard to find a gift box?

Our Faberge style trinket or keepsake boxes are really a treasure to behold. They are created in the same style as the famous works of Carl Faberge. You can use these little masterpieces to store small items, or just for decoration. Our trinket boxes are pewter molded, hand enameled, and are embedded with sparkling Austrian crystals. These bejeweled trinket boxes come in a vast variety of shapes and colors. With a selection like this, you&aposre sure to get a perfect gift for that hard to shop for person!

Hard to decide which trinket box to choose? Check out our our blog with ideas of trinket boxes for various occasions. As for our Faberge style items, they are perfect gifts for Easter. Besides being beautiful and full of charm, the egg-shaped ones are also a well-known Christian symbol of new life and hope. And if you want to make a real Russian-style gift, don&apost forget to put something special inside. In Russia, people don&apost give empty boxes as a gift. Whether it&aposs a small piece of jewelry or a little note inside one of our fabulous trinket boxes, your loved ones will never forget your special gift.

History of the Music Box

It is not possible to give a name or date for the development of the music box mechanism in Europe. Rather, people in the course of time toyed with certain separate elements which in the end came together to produce the music mechanism as we know it. Already in the 15th Century in Flanders a cylinder with pins operating cams was invented to regulate the ringing of bells, a necessary step in the development. But it is generally accepted that the first known “music(al) comb” was used as a gadget by the swiss clockmaker Antoine Favre in 1796 and incorporated in watches, snuff-boxes and other objects.

The musical comb is made from steel, hardened and tempered in a certain way so that no bending of the comb will occur and consists of a number of teeth in varying lenghts. By plucking teeth, usually by a pin on a cylinder, a note is produced that will vary depending on the length of the tooth. The pins on the cylinder are placed in such a way, that by rotating the cylinder at a certain speed, a melody or song is produced. The number of teeth can vary from 8 or 9 to several hundred. The music boxes in this collection have generally 9 to 30 teeth, with a concentration around 18/20 teeth. The cylinder is powered by a spring, to be wound by a key or similar device and the speed is regulated by a governor. All components are fixed to the bedpan, usually metal as well. But copper is and has been used for music mechanisms also.

Although the first music boxes used metal disks, the switch to cylinders was made in the very early years of the 19th Century and this is still the method of choice for most music boxes and musical toys from this collection.

The development of the music box took place from the beginning of the 19th Century till the early 20th Century and therefore reigned, in various forms, as the mechanical music of choice for just over a century. By the early 20th Century the gramophone and mechanical piano took over, due to their better and louder music. They are also more programmable.

Still, a much smaller industry survived to this day for people interested in this type of mechanical music and the more complicated Items it could produce. Other firms went out of business or switched their business model, back to watches and clocks for some.

Around the 1880’s, starting in Germany first, music boxes progressed from working with cylinders to metal disks, increasing the properties of the mechanical music. Another development was the wooden or hardboard “books” as used in street organs. Some music boxes were developed with only bells or a combination of bells and comb. Music boxes became larger and more complicated. Another development was to incorporate a bellow or bellows, with a modified wind instrument, to produce the melody of a bird “singing”. The mechanism for a singing bird was first developed in Switzerland in 1780 and improved upon in 1848 in Paris, France.

By using more than one spring, the time of playing could be extended, sometimes to one hour or more. Also, by tilting the cylinder at the end of a song, accessing a different set of pins, more than one tune could be played on the same comb in the box. And a further development in the 1860’s enabled users to exchange cylinders, each playing a different melody on the same comb, specially for larger cylinders/boxes.

All these mechanical music boxes were relatively costly for the general public and therefore limited to the higher society of the times. For the amusement of the general public though, coin-operated machines were developed and put in public places as railway stations. These machines were built very sturdy to take some abuse in use and therefore quite a few of the coin-operated machines survived and can be found now in museums and private collections.

If one thinks of museums for music boxes, they will collect and exhibit the mechanical music boxes and contraptions from mainly the 19th Century to the early 20th Century and maybe some examples of later date, but the emphasis is on the 19th Century.

Just after WW11 Sankyo (Seiki) started making the music box mechanism as a smaller model, 9 to 30 teeth, in an industrial way and with its low production cost at the time, it opened up a new market for music boxes, as in jewelry cases and many novelty and gift Items. Sankyo themselves used them early in musical key rings and later in figurines. A whole new industry developed around this.

But also some of the surviving music mechanism makers in Europe, as Reuge and others in Switzerland revitalized the market, with still affordable but more up-market objects, in the case of Reuge, many based on wood carving and wood inlay, carrousels, etc.

Jewelry Boxes - Their Long History As Gifts and Heirloom Gifts

Jewelry boxes are more than mere places to store jewelry. For centuries they have been treasured gift items, and they have been particularly prized as heirloom gifts as well. Let's take a look at the history of the jewelry box and also consider its role as an heirloom gift.

The best jewelry boxes have been passed down for generations. These boxes are considered valuable not only because of the jewelry stored in them but also for the memories that they symbolize and in many case, for the beautiful workmanship of the boxes themselves.

How far back do they go? Jewelry has been worn by humans since the Stone Age and jewelry boxes have been around since the ancient era. Jewelry boxes were originally known as "jewel caskets." The early jewel caskets were made out of metal, and finished with gold, silver, copper and ivory. They were valuable items, in themselves, even without the jewelry inside them.

Prior to our modern, industrialized era jewelry boxes were hand-made by craftsman and each one was unique. When the techniques of mass production were adopted, then jewelry boxes, like other metal items, could be produced in industrial quantities. The boxes became affordable for a growing middle class that was starting to get a taste for luxurious products.

In the first years of the 20th Century American women yearned for the fashions of the world's big cities and were able to get fulfillment of this wish in the popular mail order catalogs of the day. Jewelry boxes became a popular "fashion" purchase in the mail order trade. Jewelry stores also carried the boxes as well.

The increase in international travel that took place in the 20th Century also contributed to another use of the jewelry box the boxes were bought as souvenirs of the exotic places that their owners had visited.

The tradition of giving jewelry boxes as heirlooms has gone on for centuries and it is still going on today. Many consider a jewelry box as a place where they can store a lifetime of jewelry received from their loved ones and then pass it on to the next generation.

Heirloom boxes are given on a number of occasions during the year, and they include Christmas, weddings, anniversaries, engagements and graduations. Gift holidays, like Christmas, and other "milestone" dates are times when jewelry and jewelry boxes are given to "mark" the occasion.

The earliest boxes or jewelry caskets were made of metal and were built to hold small trinkets, but modern boxes have grown in size, use other materials and serve a variety of purposes. Jewelry boxes today are crafted from wood, leather, and fabric. They are used for the storage and presentation of individual jewelry items, such as engagement rings,pearl necklaces and other pieces of jewelry, including rare heirlooms. Larger wood jewelry chests and floor standing armories are used for the storage of entire jewelry collections.

Woodboxes are the most popular when it comes to heirloom gifts. Reed and Barton is a popular maker of heirloom jewelry boxes and I personally use a mahogany Reed & Barton jewelry chest that belonged to my husband's grandmother.

Another quality manufacturer is Constantine. They construct their boxes solely by hand and take as much as 20 days to complete a single box. Their boxes are crafted from exotic hardwoods and are lined with specially treated anti-tarnish fabrics. They make exceptional gifts for Christmas and other important occasions

A Short History of Boxes

A box is a lidded wooden container distinguished from its larger cousin, a chest, primarily by its smaller size the demarcation between a large box and a small chest often being a matter of opinion.

Boxes have undoubtedly been made as receptacles for every conceivable object some of the more common uses have resulted in various distinguishable types, such as bible box, candle box, desk box, jewelry box, knife box, pipe box, and work box. Such names are largely self-explanatory and readily recognizable, such as the sloping-lid construction of a desk box which may be used as a writing surface. Some terms, such as “bible box” have come to be used as representative of boxes made in a particular style or in a particular period rather than necessarily to contain the eponymous object.

With regard to bible box, while many so-named boxes were undoubtedly used to house the family Bible, the term now implies a relatively flat, book-shaped boarded box (made with solid boards rather than framed-and-paneled), frequently carved with simple arcading, lunettes, and other geometric patterns, typical of the kind made in New England by the early Colonists.

Although often referred to as one of the more primitive forms of furniture, boxes may be seen as representative of the entire history of furniture, exemplifying changing styles, construction methods, and materials. Examples thus include relatively crude nailed boxes from the Age of Oak copiously carved examples joined with dovetails or frame-and-panel joinery boxes with applied moldings and turnings later boxes from the 17th and 18th centuries, made of walnut and other woods, often inlaid with colored woods and other materials such as ivory, mother-of-pearl, or shagren or boxes entirely veneered and more contemporary boxes made for entirely modern objects such as scientific or medical instruments.

A casket, apart from a secondary (and uniquely American) use as an alternative term for a coffin, generally refers to a box or small chest made for particularly valuable contents, and is itself generally of superior construction.

Graham Blackburn is a furniture maker, author, and illustrator, and publisher of Blackburn Books (www.blackburnbooks.com) in Bearsville, N.Y.

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WHAT?: Jewelry Caskets

Congratulations again to Randall for winning last week’s Mid-week Quickie: WHAT? contest! Have you made your guess in this week’s contest: WHERE? Go now! Get your name on the leaderboard!

Jewelry Caskets – what a dreary and macabre name for something meant to hold your treasured jewels!

Let’s start with the name – why on earth are they called “caskets”? A little bit of research has led us to find that a casket once did originally refer to a small box that held treasures and jewels. Per Wiki: “A casket, or jewelry box is a term for a container that is usually larger than a box, and smaller than a chest, and in the past was typically decorated.” Although we usually think of funerary uses when we hear the term casket, it seems that it started as a euphemism! From Wiki, again: “Any box used to bury the dead in is a coffin. Use of the word “casket” in this sense began as a euphemism introduced by the undertaker’s trade in North America a “casket” was originally a box for jewelry.”

Wanting to know more about the euphemism, I found this on Woods-Valentine Mortuary’s website: “How are a jewelry box and a casket related? I heard a Pastor during a eulogy describe the person that had passed away, as a ‘precious jewel.’ He went further to say that the casket was ‘a jewelry box’, made for the beautiful jewel that lie in it.” I believe this was a common thought – and thus the interchangeability of the terms.

Now for some education:
Throughout history, jewelry boxes were constructed and designed by craftsmen, one box at a time. With the Industrial Revolution came the concept of mass production, avidly adopted in the United States during the late 19th century. For the first time, objects like jewelry boxes, could be cast in quantity, less costly to produce – and were sold in mail-order catalogues. There was now a Middle Class in America, able to purchase decorative items, not just the essentials.

Manufacturers experimented with many finishes. Most jewelry caskets were first electroplated with copper, then finished with gold or silver over spelter or antimonial lead (no iron – that’s why so many now have broken hinges). Jewel boxes were lined with fine pale-colored silks from Japan and China, also with faille, satin or sateen, and were often trimmed with twisted satin cord. Some boxes were lined with velvet in brighter colors.

International trade and travel drew attention to decorative styles all over the world. The most prominent decorative style of jewelry casket during the early 1900s was Art Nouveau, a romantic style noted for its flowing, asymmetrical lines, with motifs relating to nature. Most today associate Art Nouveau with graceful nymph-like young women, but floral motifs held a major place in the American Nouveau jewelry casket world. The Language of Flowers was a popular concept during the Victorian Period so floral sentiments were reflected in the Nouveau style on jewelry boxes, the four-leaf-clover for good luck, daisies for innocence, roses for love and beauty, and so on.

There were several American Art Metal manufacturers that designed and produced jewel caskets, and they often trademarked or signed them. However, Sears and Roebuck and Montgomery Ward implied in their early catalogs that they were the manufacturer supplying the merchandise. They did not was trademark on some items they sold. So, one may find two identical jewelry caskets, one with a signature, another without.

Peak production lasted fewer than 15 years, 1904-1918, but the term Mass Production held a completely different meaning then than it does today. Gold and silver finished caskets were the most common. The silver caskets have not fared well, unless actually silver-plated, a rare find. Also rare are souvenir jewelry caskets with commemorative ceramic or photo discs. The ivory finished boxes, though somewhat later in development, remain elusive. Their finishes were more durable, so they may still be handed down within families.

These wonderful antique jewelry caskets were much valued, and they held their popularity well until World War I, when the continuity of fashion was broken, re-directing interest from decorative to the function and power of the machine. Fortunately, we can still discover examples of the almost-100-year old treasures.

All of the jewelry caskets listed here will be sold in our upcoming Etsy store!

Information taken from Joanne Wiertella’s many brilliant articles. Her collection of cast metal jewel boxes and quest for knowledge led her to write a book – THE JEWEL BOX BOOK: The Definitive Guide to American Art Metal Jewelry Boxes 1900-1925. Click here for her website.

Watch the video: THE KINGDOM OF ARARAT - URARTU (January 2022).