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Toilet box

Toilet box

  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    1920 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Schaub, G. (manufacturer)
    Fowle, William, born 1658 - died 1684 (maker)
    Porta, Guglielmo della (designer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Electrotype, electroplated in silver

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 54a, case 2

Object Type
The term 'toilet service' refers to the mirror, boxes and dishes that would be found on a lady's dressing table in the 17th and 18th centuries. Large boxes such as this one may have been used for combs or for gloves. This box is embossed with flowers and has a central cast plaque showing the ancient Greek and Roman myth of Venus, the goddes of love, and Adonis.

A silver toilet service was often a gift to a bride from a wealthy groom. This service is a reproduction of a service (Museum nos. 240&A to M-1879) that was bought for Julia Blackett, the eldest daughter of Sir William Blackett, by her intended husband Sir Walter Calverley. This is recorded in his diary: 'On Tuesday, the 17th of January, 1706-7 I was married to Miss Julia Blackett...I and my mother were at the cost of a fine set of dressing plate for my wife, came to 116l. odd money...'.

Recent research has identified the silversmith, whose mark 'WF' is found on this service, as William Fowle (1658-1684). He was apprenticed to the well-known silversmith, Arthur Manwaring, and went into business independently in 1681. He specialised in making toilet services.

Social Class
Matching sets of toilet silver originated in 17th-century France in conjunction with the custom of the lev‚e. This was a practice popular among the upper classes, in which friends and family would be invited to witness the dressing and adornment of noble ladies.

Physical description

Electrotype reproduction of a silver casket of 1683-84. Rectangular box with foliage and flowers around the sides. The top shows a scene featuring Venus and Adonis.

Place of Origin

London (made)


1920 (made)


Schaub, G. (manufacturer)
Fowle, William, born 1658 - died 1684 (maker)
Porta, Guglielmo della (designer)

Materials and Techniques

Electrotype, electroplated in silver


Height: 9.5 cm, Width: 24.5 cm, Depth: 20 cm

Object history note

This casket was made in 1920 by the firm of G. Schaub and Son as a replica of the original casket 240:d-1879, part of the 1683-4 silver Calverley toilet service. The original casket was stolen from the Passmore Edwards Museum during an exhibition in 1900. A replica was commissioned by the Victoria and Albert Museum in order to fill the gap in the set for display. Schaub and Son undertook to make a high quality reproduction of the surviving casket for the price of £7. Two further copies were made and taken on by the Circulation Department.
A minute paper from 1919 describes the decision to make a replica: "Mr Watts, The release of a D case from another purpose at length enables us to devote a case to the display of the Trevelyan (Calverley) toilet service. In order to give it its proper effect, it is necessary to fill the gap left by the casket stolen some years ago when on loan to West Ham Museum. I suggest that we should have an electrotype copy made of the companion casket in the set, to fill this gap and restore the balance of the group. If carefully made and toned to match the other pieces the effect would be quite successful, I think....H.P. Mitchell" (Victoria and Albert Museum, 6274, 12 December 1919)
Associated RFs: 31425/1900, 31537/1900 and 123/1901.

Descriptive line

Electrotype copy of Charles II silver toilet box.

Labels and date

British Galleries:

[consists of 1 mirror frame, 2 tazzas, 2 large round boxes with lids and 2 small round boxes with lids, 2 rectangular boxes with lid, 2 large vessels with lids and 2 small vases with lids, 1 pincushion]

In about 1700 a silver toilet set was a customary wedding gift for a wealthy bride from her husband. It was intended for display in the wife's private apartments and included caskets for jewels or gloves, pincushions, pots for cosmetics and trays for pins, as well as an impressive mirror. This set was over twenty years old when Sir Walter Calverley bought it in 1707 for œ119, little more than the cost of the silver by weight. [27/03/2003]

Production Note

Attribution note: This was commissioned as a copy of 240:c-1879.
Reason For Production: Commission



Subjects depicted




Production Type



Metalwork Collection

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