Before Tupperware: Shaker Oval Boxes

Have you ever seen the oval wood boxes traditionally handcrafted by Shakers? You may never guess it from the looks of these beautiful artifacts, but their primary use was once food storage.

On a visit to Hancock Shaker Village years ago, I learned that the traditional oval boxes were made for storing foods in the pantry. The woodworking was done to such a precise degree that the lids fit tightly onto the containers, sealing the contents from exposure to insects and humid air. When lifting a lid off of a well-made Shaker oval box, you can actually feel a suction between the pieces.

Today, the boxes are collected as beautiful art objects or to store non-food household items. But I love to remind myself when viewing them that they were once the Tupperware of their time.

(Images: 1. The American Museum in Britain; 2. Fine Woodworking; 3. Amazon; 4. Chris Billman; 5. Stephan Woodworking)

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Regina is an architect who lives with her husband and children in Lawrence, KS. As a LEED Accredited Professional and longtime contributor to Apartment Therapy and The Kitchn, her focus is on healthy, sustainable living through design.