Collecting 15.07.2010

Spotlight On: Memorial Bilston Enamel Box

Courtesy: Barbara Robbins

A famous area for producing enamel the second half of the 18th century, Bilston in was renowned for its artists and craftsmen. The closing of the Battersea enamel factory in 1756 provided the basis for the rise of the Bilston enamel trade, which had existed before this time.

Mourning Bilston Enamel BoxManufacturers and materials had migrated to Bilston after 1756 and the standard of the boxes improved greatly. Boxes such as these were sold as trinkets, many made by small, family run businesses. The subject matter of these boxes were intended to be popular, so to produce and sell in numbers. This piece featuring the weeping widow at the grave with the willow above shows the level of quality produced.

The fine cross-hatching work against the white background provides a stark contrast for a memorial piece and reflects the sepia work being done at the time this piece was constructed. More than likely a patch box due to it having a mirror underneath, this shows the extent of the memorial industry and its effect on mainstream culture at the time.