Sweet Antique Candy Boxes

Valentine’s Day wouldn’t be Valentine’s Day without the proverbial box of chocolates! These two boxes are pretty examples of sweet antique advertising ephemera.

antique chocolate candy boxes

The first box marked “Overhauser’s of Spokane” features a Victorian lady with a large hat. There’s a holly and berries sticker on the box that shows this box of candy from the Overhauser Candy Company (Spokane, Washington) was likely given for Christmas — but it’s still a romantic gift, right?

The second antique candy box also features a fancy Victorian lady wearing a large hat — with roses that match the other roses on the paper. This box bears a red and gold foil seal that reads “De Luxe Chocolates, Little Falls, Minn.” Remarkably, the original fancy embossed papers are still inside!

antique de luxe chocolates minnesota box

Both boxes are for sale in our Etsy shop, here & here. Or you can contact me at We Have Your Collectibles or the We Have Your Collectibles Facebook page.

Why Do You Collect?

Recently, a North Sydney (New South Wales, Australia) publication, Northside magazine, asked a “few locals” why they collect the things they do.

Academic and psychologist Mark McKinley, thinks that collectors are actually “supreme consumers”. While being called a “consumer”, supreme or otherwise, in the USA is often akin to an insult (even if my 2008 interview with economics professor Marina Bianchi ought to have cleared that up), I believe McKinley means it in a good way:

“While many persons see shopping as a chore; something to be endured, many collectors are just the opposite,” he says.

“Spending the weekend combing garage sales, antique stores and ‘marts’ provides an escape into another world that is both exciting and pleasurable – it gets the adrenalin flowing when a ‘find’ is made.”

That certainly resonates with me.

Sonia Sattout & Her Box Collection; Photo by Yie Sandison

Another person, Sonia Sattout, who also sells antiques and vintage collectibles online, said, “Some collectors are quite normal, in that their lives have routines like work, home and so on, and they fit their collecting around those activities. Other collectors prioritise everything in their lives a distant second, after their passion or obsession for collecting whatever it is they collect.” Which is rather a nice way of saying that collectors are unique — but we’re not all hoarders.

Sattout also said she thinks there are four different types of collectors:

* the aesthetic collector, who responds to the way something looks
* the obsessive, who is always looking for something they haven’t got
* the canny investor
* most commonly, the nostalgic collector for whom what they collect is a powerful memory.

While there are probably as many reasons to collect as there are collectors, I think Sattout’s list is probably a pretty good start in terms of general categories them.

But maybe I’m a bit biased because she collects boxes as I do. *wink*

Why do you collect? And is there something you’d add or change about the four categories?

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.

Lingerie Collecting: No Drawers For Your Vintage Drawers

Often when a new collector finds unworn lingerie in a box clearly not its original, they shy away from the purchase, concerned the lingerie is not authentic vintage. While there are unscrupulous sellers, finding panties in a slip box is not uncommon; on the contrary, it is quite common.

Those who collect vintage lingerie — and who do so not only bidding at online auctions, but by attending estate sales — know that ladies used to store their delicates in boxes. Lingerie boxes, pretty satin and other fabric covered boxes to fit inside drawers or be displayed on top of dressers and vanities as well as cardboard boxes from maker or retailer (as well as lingerie bags), were used to spare delicate garments from potential snags from wooden drawers and their metal hardware. But more than this, the original cardboard boxes the lingerie itself came in were used for storage.

Ladies didn’t put all their lingerie pieces in one place and paw through it for their daily selection; several pieces, enough for a week or so, would be in the rotation, with the rest waiting their tour of duty. New purchases and gifts of lingerie would be kept in their original sales box, or placed in one of the emptied and saved boxes, and then taken to closets, where they’d sit on the shelves, waiting their turn to be unpackaged and sent to the lingerie boxes and drawers.

Since boxes from previous lingerie purchases and gifts would be saved to store future under garments, panties would be placed in slip boxes, bras would be found in girdle boxes, etc., and even girdles found in girdle boxes may not be the same brand, size, etc..

Stocking boxes are the most commonly found of the vintage lingerie boxes. This is due in part to the fact that stockings continued to be sold in boxes (usually as sets of multiple pairs) far longer than other forms of lingerie; slips, nightgowns, and foundation garments were displayed on hangers in stores, and packaged at the retail wrap desk in paper and ribbons at the time of purchase.

While stockings can often be found still in their original boxes, they may not be in unworn condition. Once one stocking was too worn to be of good service, that stocking would be removed from the stocking rotation (either tossed out, put in the old scraps bag for crafts, or otherwise recycled) — but its still-serviceable mate would continue on. It might be removed temporarily from circulation, placed into a box and put back into the closet again, but a satisfactory used mate would arrive soon enough as ladies often purchased stockings in multiple pairs of the same maker, shade, and size.

Perhaps the most delightful part of all this, is the plethora of pretty vintage and even antique lingerie boxes left for collectors.

Like any other are of collecting, vintage lingerie boxes are collected for nearly as many reasons as there are collectors.

Some collect for the pretty illustrations and stunning graphics; others for the historical preservation of a particular brands logos and marketing over time. There are the cross-collectible cases of advertising collectors, pinup collectors, collectors of individual artists, etc. And I know one collector who just collects blondes — a vintage blonde printed on an old lingerie box will sit pretty with her collection of blonde figurines, dolls, postcards, etc.

Sometimes the boxes are deceptive… Plain outsides often hide their goodies inside, like this beautiful antique bloomer box.

Sometimes the insides of plain boxes are just as plain as the outsides, but you never know just what you might find inside… Lingerie, lovely vintage tissue paper, old store tags &/or receipts, love letters — who knows?  Always inspect the insides of the boxes — and the folds of any lingerie contents — for such goodies.

However, there are times the box itself is far more amusing than what you find inside. *wink*

The saddest thing about collecting vintage lingerie and boxes, though, is to find the most beautiful lingerie that was set aside and never worn…

It’s difficult not to imagine that like too many women today, yesteryear’s woman set such lovely pieces aside for a “some day” that never came — or worse, she just didn’t think she was worthy of such fragile, delicate beauty.

…Then again, maybe she just intended to re-gift?

In any case, such finds are a collector’s dream. But it’s also a reminder that we can’t take it with us, so we should enjoy what we have today.

Or, at the very least, save it for someone who will — no matter how many decades later they find it.

Image credits, in order they appear:

Vintage days of the week Super Fit Garment panties in a Honey Girl Slip box, via designofthetime.

Vintage Berkshire Stockings box with embossed paper lining, via mountaincoveantiques.

Vintage Munsing Wear hosiery box, via VanityTreasures.com.

Antique box for Blossom Bloomers, Worn the World Over, Pat. Nov 15, 1927, box, via JRs Estate and Antique Gallery.

Vintage novelty joke, Quickies: The Panty For Busy Women, via roseyreddog boutique.

Vintage Vanity Fair lingerie box with original slip, label and price tag, via unbuttoned4u.