One of my small collections is Victorian Papier Mache which I have been collecting over the years and is definitely one of my favorite collections. The above photo is the top of a small tea tray with carved brass handle.  Here you can clearly see the mother of pearl inlays and gold embellishment mentioned in one of the quotes below.

imageSome of my papier mache pieces on top of my antique gaming table when opened becomes my dining table.

imageA close up of the ladies writing slope, one of the first pieces I acquired at an antique show many years ago.

“Papier Mache (French for “chewed paper”) is believed to have got its name from French workers in London papier mache shops who did just that! Whether this is actually true or not we shall probably never know. The manufacturers didn’t seem to mind this idea being put about – possibly because it gave them the chance to hide their true methods and recipes, some of which little is known about even today.” Quote from the

imageA glove box, I use it for jewelry that I wear often and a couple of “love” notes!!!  All decoration is hand painted and this is the first of several pieces that I am featuring that show some of my lily of the valley collection.

Victorian Papier Mache: “The Victorians loved to experiment with new materials and one of their favorites was papier mache. By the time Queen Victoria came to the throne, there were at least 25 companies producing papier mache items.”

imageThe mother of pearl embellished top of a small portfolio again embossed in gold and a hand painted lily of the valley bouquet.

“The most common pieces are trays, workboxes, inkstands, face screens, snuff boxes and letter holders. Eventually they moved on to larger items and furniture such as firescreens, chairs and tables, bookcases – even wardrobes and beds!”

imageNot in my collection, if only wishes came true!!!!  Isn’t is glorious.  Source unknown.

imageCan you even imagine these in person, again, not mine but wish they were…a special Valentine’s Day thought…anyone!!!!  I would most definitely find room for them!  Source unknown.

“Nearly always the characteristic black, but occasionally in red or green, the pieces were very ornately decorated with flowers, birds and patterns – frequently embellished in gold. Some of the finer pieces were inlaid with shimmering mother-of-pearl shell.” Quote from

imageThe top of a tray, again not mine and again source unknown.  I think it gives you a perfect view of the amazing detail of the mother of pearl inlay and gold painting around the floral center and the detail on the edges of the tray.  Source unknown.

imageimageThe ends of my two book slides.  These have sliding bottoms to expand for additional books.  I got both from an antique dealer at a Hilton Chicago antique show at least 40 years ago.  The dealer specialized in UK treasures and I got many of my lily of the valley pieces from them.  They would source lily of the valley pieces for me…guess what, I never passed up anything they brought back!!!! (Sorry for the sad photos!!!!)

imageThis is facing me above my desk (the shadows are from the blue Opaline chandelier which hangs above my head while I do my blog postings and other computer necessities!), it is one of a pair, they are the tops of portfolios, are double matted in celadon green velvet and are in antiqued silver frames.  They were purchased by my Mother, Ruth, from the fantastic Fields Afar department at Marshall Field’s many, many years ago.  They give me joy each time I sit down at my desk.

imageA close up of the above photo. I particularly love the flowers in their mother of pearl vase, charming!  The other is totally different but framed in the same way.,204,203,200_.jpg?w=994&ssl=1A suggested book on English Papier Mache

Victoria and Albert Museum Collections

Unless otherwise noted all photos were taken by Nena Ivon.


  1. Tom Mantel February 9, 2017 / 6:21 pm

    I have seen these beautiful pieces for years and did not know the history. It is great to know!

    • nenasnotes February 9, 2017 / 8:11 pm

      Thanks Tommy. See you can learn something new all the time!!

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