Period: Mid Nineteenth Century
Width: 19 inches
Height: 11 inches
Depth: 12 inches
In original condition, the rectangular containers stencilled in black to sides "W. Paterson`s Rice Starch, London", the pine stained and painted to simulate mahogany with ebony stringing with remnants of paper travelling labels, each with the original cast iron drop handles.
In un-restored condition, the well travelled stained pine now evocatively chipped and worn, the labels in differing levels of order, the lids with their original locks sit in different ways so some aren’t as flush as others. One of the containers even has a mock brass tablet in paper to the top, again simulating a much grander piece of the period, which would have been emblazoned with a monogram.
Labels include one for ‘Registered Via Ostend To Victoria, London”. A similar label can be found on a suitcase in the Imperial War museum archive. The harbour of Ostend, Belgium was important in Victorian times and continued to expand because of the harbour dock. In 1838, a railway connection with Brussels was constructed and then later Ostend became a transit harbour to England in 1846 when the first ferry sailed to Dover. Soon Ostend became known as "The Queen of the Belgian sea-side resorts" due to its popularity with both Belgian and English Royals.
Rice starch has been a traditional ingredient in body and face powders for hundreds of years having a smooth feel and a very absorbative quality. In the 19th century new ingredients and manufacturing methods were developed in the quest for pure white, refined starch with rice starch considered to give the best glazed finish.
Enormously decorative as well as being inherently useful, the originality of these pieces cannot be under estimated. Scarce.