I am a writer and crafter in the UK and have recently taken up the art of
crocheting vintage christmas and birthday cards together to make small hexagonal
I cannot find any history of this homespun craft - has anyone any clues when these
card boxes were made and by whom? Was this a popular pastime in the Victorian era?
A This type of box goes back to the eighteenth century and probably earlier, the idea quite likely originated in France and swiftly travelled across Europe. Sewing was one of the accomplishments required of elegant young ladies - one of the many attributes thought necessary for the 'vocation' of marriage and motherhood.
Painting and drawing was another requirement and this would come in useful for decorating paper discs with holes in with watercolours of flowers, plants, birds, butterflies and other fancies. The discs were then stitched together to form pretty boxes or purses. In Regency times when embossed paper and card was introduced, by Dobbs, De La Rue and others, this also became the base for decorations.
Over a lifetime as a dealer I've seen very few complete early ones and suspect somewhere in the darkest depths of our institutions one or two of these pieces still survive.
In the late 19th century and early 20th century the boxes are more common particularly in America where later on the paper is plastic coated.
A More can be found on this subject in an excellent article by Meredith Peach: The quest for the vintage “card basket”