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Maker(s):Davis, Hannah
Culture:American (1784-1863)
Date Made:ca. 1848
Type:Personal Gear; Container
Materials:wood, wallpaper, paper, ink, base metal: iron
Place Made:United States; New England
Measurements:overall: 7 1/2 x 11 7/8 x 9 in.; 19.05 x 30.1625 x 22.86 cm
Accession Number:  HD 2243
Museum Collection:  Historic Deerfield

Wooden oval bandbox or hatbox with a lid covered with wallpaper decorated with a bird perched on a flowering branch in green, black, white, yellow, reddish-brown, and black on the outside, and lined with newspapers with ads from Keene, Walpole and Gilsum, New Hampshire, dating from 1846-1848 in the inside. There is a label pasted on top of the newspaper in the inside: "Warrented Nailed / BAND BOXES, / Manufactured by, / HANNAH DAVIS, / East Jaffrey, N. H." Hannah Davis (1784-1863), who worked in Jaffrey, New Hampshire between 1825 and 1855, began a cottage industry fashioning boxes out of spruce and pine, covered in popular wallpaper patterns. She invented a foot-powered slicing machine to shave off long vertical strips of green wood from logs, and bent the strips and molded them to form the sides of the boxes, using pine discs for the bottoms and covers. She affixed wallpaper to the outside surfaces, and newspaper to line the inside. The boxes were functional, versatile, and affordable, selling for 12 cents for a trinket-size one just 5 inches high, to suitcase-size examples for 50 cents each. Davis first bartered goods and services for the boxes or sold them to local merchants, but soon found she needed to expand her market. Loading up her wagon with boxes and taking them on the road, she discovered she could make more of a profit by selling them directly to young factory girls in the mill towns along the Merrimack River. Word of her well-made boxes spread, and they soon became fixtures in homes across New England.

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