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  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1650-1675 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silk and metal-work embroidery on satin over a wood casket

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Miss S. Beatrice Watkins.

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Object Type
Caskets were made and used by girls in the 17th century. The girls would decorate small panels with embroidery which would then be sent to a cabinet-maker to be made up into a casket. They were often fitted with compartments for sewing and writing as well as a small mirror. Many cabinets also had secret compartments, used to store personal possessions such as jewellery or letters. The high cost of the materials, as well as the skill needed to create these caskets, means they could only have been made in wealthy households.

The panels were worked by young girls, aged around 11 or 12, as part of their education. Girls started learning needlework skills aged 6 or 7, first creating a band sampler (see T.433-1990) and then moving on to more complex pieces such as cutwork. Embroidering the panels of a casket or for a mirror (see T.17-1955) appears to have been one of the last stage of a girl’s needlework education. These skills would be useful later in life in the management of a household.

Materials & Designs
Biblical, mythological and classical scenes were all popular themes for decorating caskets. While some girls may have designs their own panels, taking inspiration from sources such as illustrated bibles, it also appears to have been possible to have purchased designs, which the embroiderer could then customise by using certain colours or adding in features. This casket is the largest in the V&A's collection.

Physical description

Needlework casket of wood overlaid with silk embroidery on satin fabric. Embroidery includes flat stitch and raised work in coloured silks and metal thread. The edges are bound with green paper and the inside is lined with pink satin and marked paper. On the top is a king beneath a canopy and four ovals with portraits of a man, a woman, a lion, and a unicorn. At the back is a vase of flowers, on the sides are animals, and on the doors are two symbolic figures.

Place of Origin

England (made)


1650-1675 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Silk and metal-work embroidery on satin over a wood casket


Height: 12 in, Width: 19 in, Depth: 14 in

Object history note

Registered File number 1929/5867.

Descriptive line

embroidered, 1700s, English; inside carboard box - fragile


Satin; Silk thread; Metal thread; Wood


Embroidered; Stump work


Needlework accessories; Embroidery


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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