Antique Philips' Seeds wooden advertising box 1890
Hummingbear Vintage features unique (often whimsical) vintage and antique decorative items from various parts of the world.
This is a tremendous wooden display box from J.M. Philips' Sons Seed Company which was established in Mercersburg, PA in the late 1880s. Boxes such as this were distributed to general and country stores where they were featured on countertops. The lid would be left open to reveal the tantalizing assortment of seed packets within.
These old Philips' seed boxes have become extremely hard to find, particularly in this larger size and with the original interior label. This box measures approximately 28.5" long x 5" tall x 12" deep and dates to the late 1800s or early 1900s. It appears to be made of pine and has a deep red wash on all of the exterior sides except the bottom panel. It has its original hardware and one of its original interior divides (three divides were added later and there are slots for four more.) The corners have finger joints and there are two primitive wire hinges on the back. The hinges and the string attachment that holds the lid open are both still in working order.
The box has two original labels. There is one on the front that is green and gold and reads "Flower Seeds, Philip's Choice Garden Seeds." The label is about 95 percent intact and the text is quite legible but there are some scrapes, tears, stains, and discoloration. The second label, a delightful chromolithograph on the bottom of the lid, shows a colorful medley of fruits and vegetables. Along the top it reads "Philips' Choice Vegetables and Flower Seeds, Mercersburg, PA". Along the bottom is the slogan "Good Seeds Will Always Produce Good Crops". On the left side is an extensive list of seed types available, and on the right side it says "The Best Seeds That are Grown". The label is in fair/good condition for its age (over a hundred years old!) The colors are still vibrant and almost all of the paper is still intact. There is quite a bit of staining but the central image is so strong that the discolored areas are not overly distracting. The most significant damage is a tear in the label that goes all the way across the middle where there is a corresponding crack in the lid.
The box itself is solid but does also show wear consistent with age and use. In addition to the split across the top lid, there are scattered chips, scrapes, stains, and gouges. On the back panel there is also a surface crack which does not go through, a sliver of wood missing from the edge, and another sliver that needs gluing down (last photo). There are several cracks on the base, and a hole in the bottom that has been covered with an interior metal plate. There is also a magnetic closure that was added to the interior on the left side. (See photos for best understanding of condition.)
Overall, this box is a beautiful and rare find. It would make a fabulous display piece, open or closed, and add instant character to any setting.