A Delightful Black Japanned Toleware Container; ‘Gunpowder’ c.1890

Origin: English
Period: Late Victorian
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1890-1900
Height: 8.5”
Width: 5.25”
Depth: 3.75”

The charmingly decorative black japanned toleware container of oval form, having a circular final with brass swing handle, hinged lid with catch and heart shaped padlock with key, to a sign-written italic script label reading ‘Gun Powder’ in ivory, opening to reveal a fueling nozzle and cover, survives from late nineteenth century England.

In good overall order, the container benefits from its slightly distressed look, the japanning worn in places, where one would expect, and the ivory script lettering still discernible but beautifully mellowed with age. Mechanically she is sound with the lid opening well and the catch true. The original (?) heart shaped lock and key are present and in working order. There is a small amount of loose remains still within the canister but we are not entirely sure if these remains are gunpowder or not, so please take heed!

Toleware containers such as these were usually filled with spices or tea and coffee, so it is rare to find one labeled as such; and we have never seen another similar. With a nozzle being in place this clearly hasn’t been adapted; rather it was designed specifically for this use. It was probably therefore part of a large estate and the owner would have been a keen marksman.

A delightfully decorative and rare little object.