Tuesday, January 18, 2011


In the late 19th century, product manufacturers began to send display cabinets along with their merchandise as an incentive for store owners to buy in bulk. By the beginning of the 20th century, however, these cabinets went out of fashion due to more efficient packaging methods. Their value today exists among collectors who enjoy their beauty and uniqueness.

Diamond Dye cabinets remain popular among collectors of these antique display cabinets. Diamond Dyes were made by the Wells & Richardson Company of Burlington, Vermont and were usually made of cherry, oak, and walnut. See for example, an 1890 Diamond Dyes "Evolution of Woman" cabinet made of birch with tin color lithograph front (image courtesy of southwestspiritantiques.com).

Cabinets that housed thread are another style that have remained popular throughout the years. In the 1860s, thread manufacturer George A. Clark, Clark Thread Company of Newark, NJ, created a new sturdy cotton thread, "O.N.T." (Our New Thread). The Clark Company would package the thread in display cabinets with the hopes of attracting more lucrative sales. One such cabinet is depicted below: a six-drawer walnut Clark's spool cabinet with red glass labels (this cabinet sold at Cowan's Auction, Cincinnati, OH - cowanauctions.com).

Another popular manufacturer of threads that used a similar sales strategy was J. & P. Coats.

DID YOU KNOW that the use of cotton thread skyrocketed due primarily to the increase in popularity of the sewing machine? Sewing machines did not go into mass production until the 1850s when Isaac Singer built the first commercially successful machine. His was the first to have the needle move up and down rather than side to side and the needle was powered by a foot treadle. Previous machines were all hand-cranked. Source: about.com