There are fancier spruce gum boxes out there, but I think this plain one, found in Maine, is as lovely as they come. Associated with logging and lumbering activities, spruce gum boxes, also known as gum books as they were typically shaped like books, as this one is, were usually made from a solid piece of wood, as this one was, with a sliding opening at top and sometimes at bottom as well, as is the case here. Now highly collectible, these were made by lumberman, typically as gifts for loved ones — akin to sailor’s valentines—most dating from 1850-1920, after which improved transportation allowed them to travel home more frequently. Spruce gum, which comes from sap that is hardened into resin, became a significant industry; Maine was the largest producer of spruce gum with nearly two dozen companies emerging between 1848-1910.
I love the gracefully pointed ends and slight overhang of the sliding ends on this one, and the wood, stained maple I believe, is smooth and rich and just beautiful, lighter in tone on the bottom slide, which would not have been much touched, and darker on the top one, carved with a notch for pulling, clearly handled and used.
3 15/16” x 3 9/16 x 1 11/16 and in very good condition, late 19th c or so, I believe.