c1900 leather covered vanity sewing box with brass fittings & tools


Lovely late 19th or early 20th century combination sewing/vanity chest (or “casket” as they were once called) covered in ornately tooled leather and ornamented with filigree brass fittings. It’s outfitted with silk lining and several compartments and the mirror set into the inside of the lid is surrounded by gathered matching silk. There are two large fitted “pouches with loops holding a thimble and piece of beeswax, and two more loops to hold a matched pair of cut glass scent bottles. There is a half-round lidded box with loops to hold the tools and a padded velvet pincushion is set into the bottom. There are a variety of tools including crochet hooks, stilettos or awls and a laying tool, all carved from ox or cow bone. The brightly colored celluloid thimble is a later addition. The two packets of needles are from the late 19th century, and still contain needles.

The sterling thimble is a size 9 but I am unable to identify the hallmark; it has the small dents and signs of use consistent with its age. The scent bottles are about 2-3/4” high and have snug-fitting ground glass stoppers; one has two small chips in the neck. The bone tools which have silver-toned metal fittings appear to be from a matched set, the plain bone tools may be additions. The loops on the inner box lid don’t quite fit the tools, so they may have stretched with use or the tools may not be original to the box. The bone grain is very fine and the color is very white on most of them. Included is a packet of “court plasters” which are an early band-aid!

The box measures about 9-1/2″ across by 6-1/2′ deep and 3-1/2″ high. It’s covered in thin leather with a detailed pattern tooled along the bottom edge and fitted with ornate brass feet and corners, a plate around the clasp and a very heavy handle.

Condition is very good. The brass has some minor tarnish. The leather is very nice and the lid opens easily and closes securely. The fabric inside is clean and in excellent condition, free of any damage and has retained a lovely muted blue shade.

This would have been displayed proudly on a lady’s dressing table, and is still sturdy enough to use. It will require a signature at delivery.