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Casket

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1650-1675 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Embroidered silk mounted on wood, leather, lined with padded cotton

  • Museum number:

    T.223 to B-1968

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Caskets like this were used by girls from affluent families in the 17th century for storing small personal possessions. The caskets were fitted inside with a variety of compartments, suitable for keeping jewellery, cosmetics, writing equipment and letters, needlework tools, tiny toys or keepsakes. They often had mirrors set into their lids, for dressing, and sometimes had secret drawers, in which to keep particularly precious possessions.

The panels of the casket would have been worked by a young girl, probably around age 11 or 12, as the culmination of her needlework education, which would have begun with samplers and the decoration of small objects like pin cushions. She would embroider a series of small panels drawn or printed with pictorial scenes, which would then be sent to a cabinetmaker to be made up into a casket, the edges bound with braid. The cost of the materials and the involvement of a cabinetmaker in making up such an item means that it could only have belonged to a household which could afford such an outlay.

The casket came to the museum with its protective case, made to protect the delicate surfaces of the embroidery. This has helped to preserve it from damage and the fading of its fresh colours.

Physical description

Casket of wood covered with leather, embroidered silk panels, and lined with padded green glazed cotton. Box shaped to fit the casket. The front panel opens forwards on small hinges and the shaped top hinges backwards.

Decoration
Silk ground worked in coloured silk and metal thread, also decorated with raised work and bobbin lace, edged with metallic braid.

The sides of the lid are decorated with flowers, animals and insects. The side of the casket each show a different scene, easily identifiable is the back panel which show the biblical scene of Jacob dreaming of the ladder, Genesis 28:10-19. The interior drawer fronts are also heavily embroidered to match the outside. The doors are lined in pink silk.

Construction
Casket, comprised on three main sections. First section: Opened by lifting up the lid to reveal a small compartment.
Second section: accessed by lifting up the top section, which hinges open to reveal a compartment. The lid holds a mirror.
Third section:Accessed by opening the front doors, contains two rows of drawers, one row has three small drawers and the other row has one large drawer.

Place of Origin

England (made)

Date

1650-1675 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Embroidered silk mounted on wood, leather, lined with padded cotton

Dimensions

Height: 14.75 in, Width: 12 in, Depth: 8 in

Descriptive line

Casket of wood covered with leather and embroidered silk panels, England, 1650-1675

Materials

Wood; Leather; Silk; Lace

Techniques

Embroidering; Lace-making

Subjects depicted

Clothing; Animals; Fruit; Figures

Categories

Embroidery; Children & Childhood; Accessories; Leather; Containers; Woodwork; Textiles; Household objects

Production Type

Unique

Collection

Textiles and Fashion Collection

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