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Dressing case

Dressing case

  • Place of origin:

    Leeds (possibly, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1850 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Wilson, Walker & Co. (maker)

  • Museum number:

    AP.621:1 to 21

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Object Type
Dressing cases had been in use at least since the 18th century, but were particularly popular during the 19th. Their contents vary: basic requirements at this time would normally include at least one razor with a leather strap to sharpen it, a pair of scissors, a toothbrush, a mirror and a hairbrush.

Material & Making
The case is thought to have been made by Wilson, Walker & Co. of Leeds for the Great Exhibition of 1851. It is a luxury product, elaborately finished with tooled decoration on the outside. It shows the use of a number of materials, including a lining of metal foil in some compartments to prevent tarnishing.

Ownership & Use
The dressing case contains 17 pieces fitted into a very small space. Their arrangement is quite ingenious and would have been tricky to pack: it depends on inserting the items in the right order as well as in the right place. Undoubtedly many of the men who owned fitted cases like this would be used to having a servant pack for them and keep all the pieces clean when not in use.

Physical description

Man's dressing case, leather, lined with watered silk and metal foil, containing three wooden brushes (for clothes/shoes and hair), two 'Napoleon' cut throat razors, one strop (razor sharpener), four ivory handled brushes (one shaving brush, one nailbrush, two toothbrushes), mirror, glass scent bottle with glass stopper and metal cap, kit consisting of four items (scissors, button hook, corkscrew, tweezers) on a fitting, round metal topped glass pot (possibly for toothpaste powder) and two keys.

Place of Origin

Leeds (possibly, made)


ca. 1850 (made)


Wilson, Walker & Co. (maker)

Descriptive line

Man's dressing case

Labels and date

British Galleries:
The dressing case was a vital accessory for fashionable men as well as women. A man's case contained razors, a shaving brush and a small brush, if necessary, for tidying his moustache. The glass pot was probably for oil or pomade to grease back his hair. [27/03/2003]


Personal accessories; British Galleries


Museum of Childhood

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