Spotlight: Victorian Era Cake Box

Spotlight 7: Late Victorian Cake Box

Why have a cake stand when you can have a cake box??

Welcome to Mukashi no Sewing’s seventh spotlight! Although I cannot in fact let you eat cake, I can share with you this gorgeous cake box from the late Victorian era. It belonged to some dear friends of mine, and I happened to admire it profusely when helping them move into their new house. Several days later, they gifted it to me, saying that I clearly would treasure it. I have pretty cool friends. 😀

Also how could I not admire this?! It’s so cool!

In an era before refrigeration, food still needed to be kept safe from pests and mold-producing moisture. Bread and cake boxes discouraged mice and ants, contained crumbs, and (depending on the type of baked good) could prolong your cake or bread’s shelf-life up to a week. Cake boxes also permitted easy transportation, if needed, and looked beautiful on the shelf as well! Bakeries also used them as store displays both to draw in customers and hold goods for sale.

This must have looked stunning new. It’s still incredibly detailed!

My cake box was designed by Schepp’s, and manufactured by the Silas A. Ilsley firm which was renowned for tin lithography. I found a twin on an auction site, which notes:

“It’s decorated in front with a lithograph of Wilhelm von Kaulbach’s painting of “Goethe’s Lotte” and on the sides and top with “Goethe’s Lili” also by Kaulbach. The romantic scenes on this tin cakebox represent themes of love and strength in the writings of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and the artistry of Wilhelm von Kaulbach.”

You may as well advertise on your own product!

Schepp’s manufactured these tin cake boxes between 1895 and 1930. I’ve seen a couple others for sale that look to be in similar shape to mine that are tentatively dated to 1910, so mine may be either late Victorian or early Edwardian. Naturally, that meant I needed to go hunting for a late Victorian cake recipe since lots of people tend to bake during the winter months and even if you don’t have time to do so (like me), you can still ogle delicious historical recipes! 😀

Pictured: a cake box without cake.

I settled on the Battenburg, or domino, cake for two reasons. The first is that the recipe for it was first printed in 1898, and there are many extant images and recipes from the Edwardian period as well. The second is that it’s fancy. Because I love her writing – and because her recipe was nice and clear, I have decided to recommend the recipe on The Past is a Foreign Pantry!

I wish my schedule at the moment permitted me the time to bake one, but rest assured if I find some I will certainly do so and share the results. But not the cake. The cake is all for me. 😀 I hope you’ve enjoyed this peek into kitchen “appliances” of the past, and I look forward to seeing you back here at Mukashi no Sewing for my next adventure! ❤

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3 thoughts on “Spotlight: Victorian Era Cake Box

  1. How fun to find such a beautiful cake box from years past!
    I hope when you make the cake you share a picture of it.😋


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