Ohio Finds! Fascinating Objects from our Past: Wallpaper-covered Box

Compared to the houses of today, Ohio’s early homes were little more than four walls and a fireplace. To stow their belongings, settlers relied on furniture such as chests and cupboards that could survive wagon travel and the migratory habits of a developing nation. Valuables and sentimental treasures made the journey in a small box that could be carried or held on one’s lap. Some boxes were elaborately carved while others were quite simple, but they were always handmade.

During the late 1700s, an enterprising New Englander named Hannah Davis started making and selling small and lightweight boxes covered in wallpaper, using her father’s carpentry shop to spin off her own business. 

 

 

Wallpaper was expensive to make at the time and considered the height of fashion, which made it popular among affluent Americans. Soon, woodworkers everywhere had added such boxes to their repertoire, and by the mid-1800s, wallpaper boxes were a common item.The wallpaper on this vintage bandbox was printed using hand-carved blocks and depicts the 1835 hot air balloon flight of Cincinnati silversmith Richard Clayton.  

Sold at Garth's Auction: $5,750

 

Column originally appeared in Ohio Magazine February 2015 Digest

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