Tramp Art Wooden Sewing Box
Tramp art, so named because it was once thought only itinerant tramps created these pieces, started becoming popular in the second half of the 1800's in America. Pieces like this sewing box were chip and notch carved using discarded wooden items such as cigar boxes (in this case) or packing boxes. The wood was layered with glue and/or nails and carved with readily available tools such as penknives.
This handsome, dark-stained sewing box has several points of interest. In addition to the notched geometric patterns that cover the back, sides and lid, the notches on the front of the box form letters that spell "Lottie," obviously someone near and dear to the maker. It has a velvet-covered pincushion on its lid, still perfectly useable after all these years. The bottom of the box, a piece from an old cigar box** was left unstained. It is signed in pencil "Fred Leighton" (which coincidentally is the name of a famous jewelry store). Inside the box the two crown-shaped metal hinges are visible, along with printed black markings on the underside of the lid. There is a removeable liner in the bottom, cardboard covered with velour, that was added in later years.
The box is good-sized, measuring 11 inches long, 4 inches high and 6 inches front to back. It weighs 1 3/4 pounds and is in excellent condition, with no cracks, breaks or missing pieces and the lid fits snugly. It's one of the nicest tramp art boxes we've offered for sale.
**DATING THIS TRAMP ART BOX by the cigar label on the bottom: The black printed label shows Factory 550 in Pennsylvania. This was one of the factories of Bayuk Cigars, circa 1920's.
Since the "Notice" (cautioning against re-use of the box to sell cigars) is printed on the box, rather than a pasted-on paper label, the box is post-1910.