Oval Shaker Boxes

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Shaker boxes were produced in great numbers by Shaker communities and sold to visitors. A member of the Mount Lebanon society recorded the number of oval boxes his community made over 15 years: a staggering 24,250 boxes. In 1836 alone, they made 3,560.

The boxes are made by soaking the sides – usually made from maple – in hot water. This enables them to be bent around moulds. Iron or copper tacks tapped into the ‘fingers’ hold the sides in place. The tops and bottoms – called headers by the Shakers – are joined to the sides with either wooden pegs or iron points. The boxes are finished with a variety of paints and varnishes.

Alan Parrott, Volunteer Guide, AMIB

Shaker-style boxes are available from various outlets, and although they are well made, if you are offered the opportunity of making your own – take it, it’s a true delight.

Created by: Shaker
Medium: Painted wood
Place of production: Either Mount Lebanon, New York or Hancock, Massachusetts
Date: c. 1836
Object number: 1959.59.5 & 1959.59.7