Dressing Up The Past: Antique Candy Boxes

Roughly 19 months ago, this vintage papier-mache chocolate gift box was found in the carefully-preserved collection of Swiss chocolatier Frederick Belmont, who founded Bettys Café Tea Rooms in Harrogate in 1919.

Dating to the 1920’s, the figural paper candy box has a little vamp posing in her silk lingerie lounging atop a white bearskin rug.

Sarah Wells looks after the Bettys archives/Frederick Belmont collection, which dates to 1919. In an interview with the Ilkley Gazette, Wells said:

It is part of a selection of bits and pieces kept by Mr Belmont. He kept a scrapbook of adverts and lots of other things from the 1920s and 1930s.

Wells says the company is lucky to be able to draw on inspiration from the collection of original items kept all these years. In the recent past, the chocolate company has used illustrations from the collection on its new tins, such as this Lady Betty tin.

When staff at Betty’s unearthed this vintage papier-mache chocolate gift box with the lovely lady, they were charmed — and a bit shocked!

We hear our founder had an eye for the ladies but even so, our mystery model was leaving very little to the imagination… The sensuous slant of her garment suggests that a fine chocolate or two was simply a prelude to a passionate encounter.

In this article in the Yorkshire Post, Miss Wells had this to say about the risqué candy box:

I am surprised at how daring the original chocolate box is for its time as there is quite a lot of flesh on display. I know there were flappers and jazz bands, but it is still not far from the Victorian period. The fact that it is still a bit risqué even nowadays, shows it must have caused quite a stir.

Yet the charms of the lady were too plentiful to ignore — not only in terms of a new tin, but the chocolates themselves. The Telegraph reports:

Following the discovery of the box, chocolatiers have spent the past 18 months painstakingly recreating and modernising Mr Belmont’s original recipes.

Bettys executive chocolatier Claire Gallagher, who helped develop the new range, said: “The original box was absolutely beautiful.

“Obviously it had to be slightly changed but it is wonderfully nostalgic and helped inspire the chocolates in it.

So, on the new tin, the model has been modified:

The pretty brunette has had buttons added to her clothes, her hair smoothed down and a suggestively arched eyebrow has been lowered to make the box more appropriate to the tea room’s wholesome image.

She still remains lovely…

Though I prefer the antique “risqué” version. But I am American, after all, and our standards are a bit different. *wink*

If you have any information about the model who posed for this vintage box, or the “Betty” for whom the chocolate company was named, please contact Sarah Wells: sarah.wells@bettysandtaylors.co.uk

Image Credits:

Woman with papier-mache 1920’s vintage gift box via Yorkshire Post.

Lady Betty tin via Bettys Café Tea Rooms.

Vintage paper box with new tin photo by Glen Minikin RossParry.co.uk, via The Telegraph.

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Deanna is the founder of Inherited Values, among other sites. She is also an antique dealer.