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Holy Hatbox!

In January, my friend Sapphire and I went vintage shopping. I was looking mainly for various household items – mainly storage boxes or drawers, preferably wooden. Of course, when one goes vintage shopping, one keeps an eye out for anything; you never know when you will stumble upon some treasure.

Hatboxes are the Holy Grail of vintage shopping for me. I’ve owned some in the past, ‘cheap’ vintage boxes made of cardboard, although they were lined in beautiful stylised floral Forties fabric, and still bore the original travel stickers on the outside. I actually found these on someone’s rubbish heap in the street where I lived as a teenager! I couldn’t wait to get them home fast enough. They were in very good condition, and I actually used them as travel luggage when I went on camps and the like. Unfortunately, a few years later when I lived in my first apartment after leaving my parents’ home, they were stored in the garage and very badly damaged by damp and mould after it was flooded. Sadly, I had to throw them out.

Hatboxes are the Holy Grail of vintage shopping for me …

I have kept my eye out for hatboxes ever since. The only ones I ever saw were also cardboard, some in the most disgraceful rotted condition with criminal (and laughable) asking prices of $80 or more! This time, while doing a second circuit of a vintage bazaar looking for something to store my vintage gloves in (yes, I own that many), I almost literally stumbled over this hatbox that I had missed the first time round. It is in very good condition for its age, and incredibly cost only $45. It is also lockable, and I am considering having some keys made for it.

Made of yellow leather, the hatbox is lined in pale peach moiré rayon. There are two pockets, one large one in the lid, and a smaller one in the base. The interior is in perfect condition; while the exterior has an expected amount of wear, with only one area along one edge that is badly cracked (you can see that in the photo). The original label inside reads ‘Garstin, Made in England’. It is a pity, but I can’t find any information on this luggage brand. It does smell a bit musty inside, but I have been airing it out and storing a large bag of dried lavender in it, and it is slowly improving.

I can’t wait to use it next time I go travelling!

(For the record, I am wearing a new vintage 70s shirtwaister by Australian label Sportscraft, 70s eelskin bag and a 90s straw boater; the shoes are by Nine West.)

PS. Happy International Women’s Day!

Photos: February, March 2016

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