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Steppes Hill Farm Antiques Newsletter #135 - February 2023
A Group of Rare and Unusual Victorian & Edwardian Silver Stamp Boxes & Cases
The small but select group of English silver Stamp Boxes and cases illustrated above include some particularly rare and sought after examples. Perhaps the scarcest would be the novelty box combined with a letter opener and made in the form of a Golf Club. Very few examples have come onto the market in recent years. A similar piece was sold by Spink of London in The 'Blue Eyes' (Frank Sinatra) Collection of Fine & Rare Stamp Boxes, on Wednesday 5th July 2009. Lot 117. The Edwardian Novelty Silver Stamp Box made in the form of Shakespeare's Wooden Desk is also a rarity. The collection can be viewed on the website.
The postage stamp was first introduced in Britain in 1840 and its use spread rapidly throughout the globe as the postal service become cheaper, more efficient and accessible to a larger proportion of the population. One might have expected this introduction to be accompanied by a demand for containers to store these little pieces of paper in, but the Stamp Box was slow to become popular and decidedly modest in its early forms. For the first forty years their use was restricted to Britain and they were mostly made in wood or brass. This was because in 1840 letters would still have to be taken to a Post Office were a stamp would be affixed by staff. Street collection boxes did not become nation-wide in Britain until the 1870's and later in other countries. The silver Stamp Box really only became popular in the late 1880's and strong demand only lasted until the outbreak of the First World War in 1914.
Although their production only spanned a relatively short period of time, silver stamp boxes and cases (for use on the person as well as on the desk) were produced in a staggering variety of forms and qualities and have become a sought after commodity for enthusiastic collectors.