Sunday, February 15, 2015

Collections: Porcupine Quill Boxes



Years ago,
 I was in an antique shop in London
when I spied an unusual handcrafted box
in browns, blacks and tans.
It looked like it should sit upon a folding desk
straight from a scene in the movie

It was a very expensive porcupine quill box 
from the 1850's with beautiful details and inlays.
Though the asking price was prohibitive 
from bringing it home as a travel souvenir -- 
I never forgot about it.

(I vowed to track one down once I returned home on Ebay.)


Do you do that? Have you ever seen a crazy expensive piece
and resist the purchase but then return home to 
pursue the hunt for the same or similar item???

Here is the historical information on these boxes:

Porcupine quill boxes make up a small part of the decorative output of Southern Ceylon. Porcupine quill boxes were finely inlaid with ivory discs and porcupine quills between bands of ebony. They were highly valued for their rich timbers and intricate craftsmanship.
The production of porcupine quill boxes and furniture falls between around 1850 and 1900. There are several documented examples that give the outline for these dates. In particular there is one in the V&A museum, which was given to Queen Victoria. 1850.
Production of Ceylonese ebony and porcupine quill boxes was focused in three areas of southern Ceylon – GalleMatara and Matura – all important trading posts, benefiting from the thriving export trade. The style of the boxes was very much aimed at the demand of the European market, boxes imitated traditional English forms such as jewellery boxes, sewing baskets and writing boxes. Although porcupine quill boxes were originally made for English residents, by the late 19th century, there was a thriving commercial export trade.
There are numerous porcupine quill boxes on the market, and they vary in quality enormously. As a general rule, the more work that has gone into the box, the finer and rarer it is.
A small writing desk ----  Via

No porcupines were harmed in the making of these boxes!
They shed their quills naturally and/or are released by contact when threatened.
New quills grow in replacement of the shed barbs.  :)


Found on Ebay here

 What exciting new thing have


tracked down lately online?

Yikes --- would not want to mess with this guy!  :)


Pamela Gordon said...

I've never seen anything like these before. They certainly are beautifully made. I have a birch bark basket with a cover and the whole things has porcupine quills on it plus a flower design on the top. It was my grandmother's so a treasure for me. I doubt it has great value - maybe $50.00 - and I'll not part with it. Thanks for sharing these rare pieces. Have a great week Alison!

Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces said...

How interesting. Alison...I've never heard of these before! Thanks for sharing!

Rose L said...

I had never seen or heard of these! Porcupine quills...what creative person came up with such an idea!!!!

Karen said...

I've seen these but never knew what they were made from. I have searched eBay for items I found that were too expensive. Sometimes I find the item and sometimes the search continues.
Did you find one that was affordable?

Anonymous said...

What a joy to read this post! I have several porcupine quill boxes in various sizes like the ones in the first photo, and one like the hexagonal shaped one. I think these boxes are truly unique, and I have enjoyed decorating with and creating various tablescapes with them.
Karen T.

NanaDiana said...

I am embarrassed to tell you that I have seen one of these and did not know what it was. How cool is that!!!!! It is funny how something just "grabs" you and you know you need one. xo Diana

therelishedroost said...

I love those and also the mirrors made out of quills are really unique!

Karena Albert said...

I think these are so interesting Alison and have seen them online; however never in any of the shops in my area! No wonder they are so expensive!

The Arts by Karena

Sarah said...

These fascinate me, Alison. Do you have one? I like boxes and certainly ones made from organic materials. Amazing how many unique crafts there are. Wouldn't it be fun to have a collection of these. I love the way they are grouped together on that desk.

Shirley@Housepitality Designs said...

These are truly beautiful!!! Now I will be on the hunt for these!