Walter Evans & Co’s, Boars Head Cotton box

Boar's Head box

Derby Museums have bought a 19th century brass-bound mahogany box, with the lid inscribed in marquetry “Walter Evans and Co’s, Derby, Boar’s Head Cotton”.

The box also bears the boar’s head logo and would haveBoar's Head logo been used for storing cotton supplied by the mill in Darley Abbey. The Boar’s Head Mill was established by Thomas Evans in 1782. The Evans family seem to be the first in the Derwent Valley to recognize the commercial opportunity of having a retail outlet, serving local people with sewing and knitting cottons, embroidery threads and materials.

Earier in the project Derby Museums also bought an early 20th century cotton reel from the mill.

8 Responses to Walter Evans & Co’s, Boars Head Cotton box

  1. Terry says:

    What a lovely box! But – in what way is it for storing cotton? Or am I mistaking the scale? This looks like about 14″ x maybe 9″ in size. I’m having a hard time figuring out what good it would be to store cotton in. Or maybe I just need to have my first cup of coffee yet. Also, what form of cotton? Raw? Carded? Already woven?? Sorry to be so dense…

    • Matt Edwards says:

      Hi Terry

      I was presuming it stored cotton. Actually when it arrived had a few pins, needles and press studs inside it although some are new. It was probably used as sewing box by the previous owner. Any more thoughts gratefully accepted.


      • Terry says:

        Hi Matt, That seems more like it, although later I thought maybe it was a salesman’s sample box – maybe they put small swatches of cotton fabric in it to demonstrate the different weaves, or patterns? It *would* be an excellent sewing notions box. I’d buy one!

  2. Peter William Blomfield says:

    I was a sub-agent for Walter Evans in the 1960s supplying factories making singlets which was a huge business in Australia. I believe the box would have held a range of colours in machine cotton probably for the domestic market although I never saw such a box.
    Following on from the bombing in WW2, Japan was devastated and the powers that be decided
    that drastic steps must be taken as the people had nothing. Accordingly they were given the technology to take over the textile industry and electronics whilst Britain and America focused on computers and jet propulsion. (Source – the CEO of McDonnell Douglas who I met whilst on a visit to UK.)

  3. Thansk for the infomation Peter!

  4. Carolyn Barker says:

    I have this morning bought in a charity shop a handsome small wooden box. It is in the shape of a chessman, in dark turned wood about 3″ high with a finial on the lid. The label underneath (which is like the label from a traditional bobbin of cotton) says: WALTER EVANS & Co. DERBY – 10 MALTESE THREAD. I had assumed it was a rather posh container for a bobbin of special quality cotton thread, but your website intimates that Walter Evans manufactured cloth. I would be very pleased if anyone could tell me more about this little treen box.

    • Walter Evans created many cotton threads, as evidenced in numerous mid-late 19th century crochet pattern books calling for their Boar’s Head cotton in making their articles. Maltese crochet was a type of crochet that used a loom, now more commonly referred to as a hairpin lace loom. I suspect the large box pictured above was used by salesmen to show off various samples of the types of threads Walter Evans sold.

  5. Alan Beard says:

    My father, Charles (Charlie) Beard worked at the Darley Abbey mill for many years and I remember going to see him there. He used to say he lived to die and he dyed to live

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