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Sewing Etuis

Posted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 1:35 pm
by sally
Those Etui things that are constructed like a box that opens out like a flower when you take the lid off, in which one stashes scissors, pins etc. Anyone know what date that particular form goes back to? Ideally I'd like to find one in a historic collection somewhere. Any date is fine, I'm just curious as to whenthey appear.

I know etuis in general have a long history both as simple functional hussifs then as fancy drawing room work boxes, but its this particular type, made usually in a square or hexagonal shape with often a needleworked surface to each segment of the piece that I'm currently pondering.

If I'm talking double dutch to anyone, a google image search on 'etui box' will show up loads of modern versions.

thanks :)

Posted: Sat Feb 21, 2009 10:44 am
by Alice the Huswyf
Had a little moule on google - etui seems to come up with any tool / selection of tools boxed for protection or travel - ie C19th leather boxed sewing kit, C18th tobacco, C7th comb.

Otherwise it is kits or completed items for sale. Do we have a national needlework collection or is it spread through many museums as side displays?

Posted: Sat Feb 21, 2009 4:54 pm
by sally
I've sent requests to a few collections, its just bugging me, lots of beautiful real antique etuis out there of many and diverse designs (I particularly like the ones in walnut shells, so sweet), loads of patterns for this particular style as modern kits, many of which say 'victorian style' or otherwise state that they have been around for centuries, but I just can't quite pin down anything to say when they do first appear.

Posted: Sat Feb 21, 2009 6:26 pm
by Merlon.
If its any use OED states:-
etui, etwee

A small case, usually ornamental, for small articles, as bodkins, needles, toothpicks, etc.; formerly also a case for surgical instruments.

1611 FLORIO, Astuccio, an estuife, a pocket cace or little sheath with cizers, bodkin, it. Stucchio, an estwefe, etc. 1611 COTGR., Estui, an Ettwee. Pennarol de Chirurgien, a Chirurgians Case or Ettuy; the box wherein he carries his Instruments. 1657 R. LIGON Barbadoes (1673) 27 Our Knives, Etweese, Keys, Needles. 1710 STEELE Tatler No. 245 2 Gold Etuys for Quills, Scissars, Needles, Thimbles. a1763 SHENSTONE Wks. (1764) I. 299 The gold etwee, With all its bright inhabitants, shall waste Its melting stores. 1771 SMOLLETT Humph. Cl. II. 10 June, He with a gold etuis. 1811 PINKERTON Petral. II. 112 It is making boxes, socles, handles of knives, etuis, etc. 1859 THACKERAY Virgin. xlii, The pearl necklace and the gold etwee. 1883 Fisheries Exhib. Catal. 78 Travelling Bags, Razor Cases, Etuis, etc.

Posted: Sat Feb 21, 2009 6:43 pm
by sally
oh I know what they are, and that there are many many types, its this very specific design I'm trying to track down a start date for

Posted: Sun Feb 22, 2009 11:15 am
by Alice the Huswyf
The pentagonal and hexagonal designs may be earlier - following the shape of drum sewing tables

Posted: Sun Feb 22, 2009 11:58 am
by sally
Alice the Huswyf wrote:The pentagonal and hexagonal designs may be earlier - following the shape of drum sewing tables
now thats an interesting thought.

Posted: Sun Feb 22, 2009 11:17 pm
by border reiver
the idea sounds intresting so i have started looking, found this!! ... rkbox.html


Posted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 12:38 am
by seamsmistress
Looking at your image and on the assumption that it is a faithful replica of an original, I'd guess at late Victorian or even later.

That said, I've seen a beautiful one somwhere recently, 18thC embroidered, based on origami principles where it unfolded like the most beautiful lotus flower. Each petal was embroidered with floral motifs. Where? Beats me, I'm wracking my brains.

Found this

Also, there are many pin cushions, needlecases etc on display at Gawthorpe hall, but I'd ring and ask specifically about sewing/sewn etui before I made the trip if that was what I was specifically after.....

I noticed a good collection of sewing paraphernalia [sp?[ at Kensington Palace, but was in the middle of a meeting and it would have been rude to dive off in that direction at the time, so have a mental note to go take another look next visit.

The earliest I've come up with so far is 1450, inscribe leather, fab but not what you're after.

This may be of some interest ... dwork.html