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Antique Silver Gift Boxes

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Most of the little boxes that you see in collections of silver were designed for gifts rather than for actual use, like certain objects sold today. When you observe the elaborate decoration of many little boxes, remember that they were made at a time when women wore brocades and wigs, and men dressed in silks and satins and wore embroidered waistcoats. Among the luxuries of the early days were sweetmeat boxes. These were usually elaborate and costly. A few museums have examples of these beautiful boxes made by Coney and Winslow, two of the seventeenth-century silversmiths. These early pieces were so exquisitely made it is hard to believe that such fine work was done in the early primitive years of our history.

Most of the boxes shown today are products of the eighteenth century and date from after the Revolution. They vary in size and use. Many of them have sentimental lines, with the owner's and sometimes the donor's initials. There are tiny patch boxes for the dots of black court plaster which were a necessary part of milady's toilet, and snuffboxes for the gentlemen of fashion who used snuff. There are also presentation boxes of silver and silver gilt that were given to prominent citizens of the day with appropriate inscriptions. Some of the most skillful silversmiths of all time made little silver boxes for all sorts of uses. Many show engraving equal to that on the finest large pieces of household silver.