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  • Writer's pictureFlea Market Love Letters

Stamp Boxes? Oh, yes.

During a recent visit to the Museum fur Kommunikation in Berlin, Germany with two pen friends I discovered that not every one knows about one of my favorite letter-adjacent things to collect: stamp boxes!

In this post we'll take a look at a brief history of the stamp box as well as some from the Flea Market Love Letters collection.

The History of the Stamp Box:

According to 'A Brief History of Stamp Boxes and Cases', while historians can't agree on who invented the 'stamp box', a container used to hold stamps, or the more portable 'stamp case' the development of them seems a natural step in the evolution of the letter. On desk sets with inkwells one might find a container beside the well which was used to contain the 'wafer like' materials which were used to seal letters before the popularization of the stamp. Once stamps became the norm in the later part of the 19th century, the compartment became repurposed for them. The author of 'A Brief History' writes that the 'heyday' of stamp boxes was from the 1890s to the 1910s.

Collectors Today:

Much like how some look for particular stamps or fountain pens at market, stamp boxes are on the treasure map for some collectors. There are two in the Flea Market Love Letters archive. While I can't tell you how old these pieces are exactly, I am lucky to have them to share as an insight into the history of letter writing.

One is a beautiful brass stamp box detailed with a shamrock or clover, with a hinged lid that opens to reveal a well for stamp storage. This stamp box was a gift from a very close friend here in Ireland and I will always treasure it for that. The other stamp box is a longer, leather tube like box with four faded pieces of stamp inspired artwork decorating the lid. This lid is sewn rather than hinged and over the years has become very delicate. When the stamp box is opened it reveals four separate compartments for different stamp sizes. This stamp box was purchased at an indoor flea market in Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

I hope that's helped! Happy hunting, readers. Next time you're in an antique store or enjoying a browse at a Flea Market or antiques fair make sure to keep your eyes open for a tiny little trinket box that may just be something you don't expect.

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