Decorating with Vanity Boxes

Interior designer Phoebe Howard and Antiques Roadshow appraiser Stuart Whitehurst delve into the historical details of a Regency vanity box.


-Let me ask you a question. -Yes. -Now, when you looked at this object and you thought about putting this here, what drew you to it? -Oh, I thought it was a beautiful box. I thought it was a beautiful, exotic wood. I love the size, the shape, and the scale. -It is a Regency Vanity Box. -And you would think that it'll be restricted to, you know, to a dressing area, a closet, or a bathroom. It's not because it's such a beautiful object in and of itself regardless of what the contents are. -This Regency Box is made of Calamander- -Uh huh. -and Calamander was an exotic wood for an exotic time and Regency Period antiques typically have these very, very interesting woods that are from India and from the Eastern part of Asia. I think it has sort of an interesting little bit of history too. It has the owner's name on top, H. Eastwood, you know. Were you drawn to that at all too? -I like to think about who was the fancy lady that owned this box 'cause obviously, she was pretty special. -Yeah. -Yeah. -Where did she use this in her own house? I mean, I would imagine you would find that in her vanity. -Or would this have been used as travel? -It could've been used as both. -Uh huh. -And because it is so well-fitted on the inside. -Uh huh. -We should take a look. The first thing that drew me to this box was the existence of this really good lock which is a Bramah lock, which is the Rolls-Royce of English lock makers in the early 19th century, and it has a really wonderfully fitted interior. But this would've been used as a vanity box in the 19th century. Now, you put this here because you're just so drawn to it. -Well, I think people have preconceived ideas about how a piece should be used today based on its former life. And so, I think you just have to, kind of, think outside the box of how you could use something today. -That's very well put. Think outside the box. -Think outside- I didn't mean it. -I like that. An object like this probably, sort of, went out of fashion maybe in the- around the turn of the century but in today's context where you've picked it out is now recognized as an object of beauty. -In here, it is in a public place where it can be, you know, a conversation piece as well. -Beautiful box. -Thank you. So, what would the value of something like this be in today's market? -In today's market, I would expect to see in a retail environment, probably around $4,000. -That's great. -Yeah. -We should go look in their closets, go look in their attics. That's fantastic. -Absolutely. -Yeah and find your hidden treasure.
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