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The Earliest Existing Commercial Paint Box Set? Collection Jim Linderman

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Bottles6842 of 7482Late 1800's glass bottles ===1850's John Ryan Potter Bottles===
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    Posted 13 years ago

    (203 items)

    The collapsible tin paint tube was invented in 1841, and by 1860 or so they were in general use. Early watercolor paint sets with powered cakes are seen on occasion, but sets like the one above with corked and bottled colors to be mixed by the artist are scarce indeed. In around 1827 (?) the British company Ackermann sold a paint box, but an auction catalog indicates "early marked pigment bottles are almost unheard of to be found..." so certainly an entire set such as this is scarce indeed.

    "PIGMENT ANALYSIS OF EARLY AMERICAN WATERCOLORS AND FRAKTUR" by Janice H. Carlson, & John Krill is an analysis of the composition of early American Fraktur paints published in the Journal of the American Institute for Conservation in 1978. It concluded fraktur painters used commercially available pigments and illustrates a similar kit (without bottles) a paint set from the Mercer Museum of The Bucks County Historical Society. It is called a Fraktur Painter's Box. The article has been cited frequently, but I find few other examples of sets this early either illustrated or discussed.

    Certainly the earliest painters had to mix their own pigments with oil, and some materials were even stored in bladders. It was apparently dangerous work...the chemicals were toxic when inhaled. Considerable study has been done on British painter J.M.W. Turner's paint box which also includes analysis of dry pigments found in test tube like bottles after his death.

    I welcome comments or contributions to the history of a set like this. Could this be one of the earliest commercial paint sets existing?

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    1. JSouders, 13 years ago
    2. cokefan, 12 years ago
      Is it marked?
    3. Jim Linderman, 12 years ago
      No marks at all! It clearly is a commercial made box of sorts (little brass hinges) but there is no makers mark or logo. The only text is found on the bottles themselves.
    4. cokefan, 12 years ago
      Have you tried sending pictures to any major auction houses?
    5. Jim Linderman, 12 years ago
      Nope. It's just happy parked behind me where it can cause no damage. when I first opened it up, I guess after a century....colors of I am sure virus containing dust surrounded me, but it's just sitting there now. I haven't shown it around other than my blog post. Someone wrote in to say it was Chinese (which seemed way off base to me, given the names the colors) So that's the status.
    6. cokefan, 12 years ago
      What label is on the large bottle at the far left?
    7. cokefan, 12 years ago
      It looks like you collect unusual photographs. Do you know anything about my Alfred E Neuman photo?
    8. Whimsiestudio Whimsiestudio, 12 years ago
      There have been later sets sold on e-bay with pigment in bottles. These were mostly for painting / glazing china, porcelain, or in illumination ,where gum is placed on the parchment or paper as a glue and powder is sifted on to get a saturated color.

      Though some artists , after the paint block and tube was invented, would get pigment to make their own paint. I know of no sets of pigment other than above.

      This box has the look of an early box .There are clues to its age in the use of the word "Patent" ,that labels are in english, and the names of the colors and the use of "spangles" it seems that they were used for decoration not watercolor or oil.

      you can see my collection of paint boxes at

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