Late Victorian Novelty Railway Coal Wagon Tobacco Box


Vendor: jasonclarkeltd - Antique Vintage Decor

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A late Victorian Railway Coal Wagon Tobacco box

This large tobacco box was originally retailed and advertised as “The Railway Coal Waggon Cigar & Cigarette Cabinet. The Latest Novelty, Made in London” and has a registered design number 230537 lodged by a Walter Ofield on the 12th of April 1894. Little information about Mr Ofield remains other than he is listed in the registration documentation as trading as a “fancy cabinet maker” from an address of 69 Rushton Street, St John’s Road, London. He must have been proud of his title as his occupation changes from ‘Cabinet Maker’ in the 1881 and 1891 census records to ‘Fancy Cabinet Maker’ in both 1901 and 1911. The census records further allow us to understand that Mr Ofield was 32 when he lodged the design, whether his ingenious tobacco box was his only form of income is sadly unknown.

This superbly crafted box is constructed from oak with a hinged lid and interior fitted out to allow for the storage of cigars and cigarettes to each side. It contains its original match striker and the hole to the central section would have contained an ashtray and the top receptacle to allow for the storage of matches. The lid of the wagon has coal affixed to the top giving it a satisfyingly realistic finish.

The box is affixed to a carriage base with wheel, all completed in brass with a silvered finish. Most examples are without the majority of their original coal and lack the original finish to wheels. This example is shown as it would have been intended for retail during the late nineteenth century.

The carriage has the painted initials BAGS to the side of the body which relates to the Buenos Aires Great Southern Railway a formerly British owned Argentine railway.

A super quality example of this rare piece of tobaciana.