The rich aged patina is evident as is the fact that the rims are attached to the headers (top and bottom) using tiny wooden dowels. The swallowtails (fingers) are each attached by a single hand-wrought copper tack. The sparsity of tacks indicate that this is an early example of Shaker work in the Harvard community as both tight-grained pine and hand-wrought tacks where scarce items during the period surrounding 1830.The time involved in crafting these small tacks individually and scarcity of tight-grained pine both set this particular work out as rather distinctive and rare in its attributes. Only the earliest examples of these boxes are assembled using a succession of small wood dowels to secure the lid and the minimum use of hand-wrought copper tacks to hold the swallowtails ("fingers"). Later boxes crafted after 1830 were done on a more industrial scale in large workrooms in community settings with the intent to sell the products commercially. However, after the Civil War commercial production of Shaker boxes fell dramatically in number.
Their particular style of oval "Shaker boxes" had certain technological steps to assemble. The various parts had jigs and fixtures to assist in making. For example, the outside elongated "swallowtails" had templates for tracing their distinctive shape.Rims were put around a form called a "follower" until they dried to develop their permanent shape. They had machines aid with other parts to help in mass production.
In 1829 they built a new machine shop where the machinery was operated by a twenty-six-foot diameter water wheel. They were known to have bought newly invented machines that assisted in making certain board pieces that were created by hand up until then. Shaker boxes were traditionally finished with milk paint. Made from milk casein, tinted with earth pigments.
Milk paint is incredibly durable, lasting hundreds of years when used indoors. The Shakers' annual production of boxes in 1830 was 1,308. That increased yearly until their peak year of 1836, when they produced 3,650.
There was an economic crisis in 1837. Also at this time inexpensive tin and glass containers were becoming available. In spite of these difficulties, Mount Lebanon improved its machinery and had its "golden age", producing some 77,000 boxes between 1822 and 1865. However, after the American Civil War. The production fell to only hundreds annually.
There are many "replicas" of Shaker boxes circulating in the marketplace. This is not one of them.
Measures 3.25" (8cm) in diameter and 3 5/8" (9cm) in height. The item "Early SHAKER Harvard Community Miniature Reverse Finger Box -19thc. RARE 3" is in sale since Monday, September 13, 2021.
This item is in the category "Collectibles\Decorative Collectibles\Boxes, Jars & Tins". The seller is "geobarth" and is located in Washington, Connecticut.
This item can be shipped to United States, Canada.