A Rare Late 19thC Carved Oak Collection Box for The Royal Infirmary in the Form of a Beehive

Origin: English
Period: Late Victorian
Provenance: H.C.Owtram & Co for The Preston and County of Lancaster Royal Infirmary
Date: c.1875-1900
Height: 8 inches (to Beehive knop)
Depth: 9.25 inches (at base)
Width: 9 inches (at base)

The well carved English oak collection box in the form of a knopped beehive skep with four coin slots on a square faceted base sitting on bun feet and having inscriptions to each side, the base with lockable hatch and working key, in aid of The Royal Infirmary, made by H.C.Owtram & Co in the last quarter of the nineteenth century.

The collection box is in as good order as you could possibly expect. The bun feet are all present, (one may be later), and the colour is nice and rich with a good patination. There are no losses to speak of, only some wear to the stain on the wood. The key and lock are working and as such the box works as intended.

The sides are carved with the following script to each:

‘Please a copper for the Royal Infirmary.’
‘H,C,Owtram & Co, Manchester Mill.’
‘He that giveth to the poor lendeth to the Lord’
‘The Lord loveth a cheerful giver.’

Manchester Mill was built in 1864 as a manufactory for H.C. Owtram & Co,  and Owtram Street itself is close by to the Mill. H. C. Owtram and Co themselves were in the 1891 Directory for Preston listed as ‘Cotton spinners and manufacturers’. At their New Hall Lane Mill they had ‘900 looms, velvets, jacconettes and fancy goods; Manchester warehouse-10, Norfolk street. Pay day last Wednesday. Telephone No., 27.’

One would then assume that the collection for the Royal Infirmary in question here is without doubt for the Preston and County of Lancaster Royal Infirmary (1896 reference). Near Deepdale Road, Preston it was erected in 1869, at a cost of £18,000, Queen Victoria was patron of the new institution.

This is a very rare object, probably a unique one, and one that is both tremendously fun and decorative but also both academically and socially interesting.