Bon-Bon Boxes of Paris: 1875


The Paris correspondent of the Philadelphia Press writes:

The bon-bon boxes prepared for the coming holiday season are simply lovely to behold. Every confectioner’s shop has its separate speciality, and each tries to out vie the other in originality of design and beauty of execution. Siraudia exhibits various floral designs, such as a basket of lilies of the valley, the flowers being attached to a close fitting flat cover, which, on being lifted off, or rather out displays the sugared treasures within. More novel and charming is a pink satin wheelbarrow loaded with wild flowers. Ackard has golden shoes, of full realistic size, very stubbed about the toes, and with marvelous striped silk stockings. Cacot displays satin water-coolers of divers shades, each painted with a charming figure of spring and also porcelain rabbits.

Boissier, however, takes the lead, as usual, with the most exquisite little bags of pale pink and pale-blue satin, which represents bagpipes, the pipes being of ivory and the sides of the bags being painted with delicately-shaded flowers of the same hue as the satin. He also offers exquisite caskets of crystal, elaborately engraved and with mountings of gilded bronze. One fantastic and extravagant bonbonniere that I saw was composed of a covering of point lace, laid over a large square box covered with light-blue satin and held down in the middle with a tiny bouquet of roses; the box was finished with a rich silk cord round the edge. The price of this festive article was $100.

A St Catherine bon-bon box

A St Cecilia bon-bon box in eglomise work.

Less elegant, but really more extravagant, was another rich casket covered with portions of a gold-embroidered India shawl, which had been artfully cut out and put together, the whole being finished with a gold cord, and being valued at $150. The price and splendor of these costly trifles may appear extraordinary; but when one reflects that bon-bons are the only gift that a gentleman is permitted to offer to a lady in Paris on New Year’s day, and that it is almost an obligatory custom among friends and intimate acquaintance, it can readily be imagined how the Parisian gentlemen will strive to vie with each other in elegance and extravagance of style in making this conventional gift to some reigning queen of fashion.

But, unquestionably, the prettiest and most original invention in this line exhibited thus far this season is Boissier’s game of nine-pins. A large, square box, covered with blue, pale pink, or cherry satin, reveals, on being opened, a set of nine pins, the heads of which are of polished black wood, and the bases of satin to match the color of the box, the balls being black. Each nine pin and ball is hollow, and each is filled with a different kind of sugar-plum. Nothing more daintily elegant and fantastic could possibly be imagined or desired.

The Fremont [OH] Weekly Journal 15 January 1875: p. 2

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: The satins of France are the most tempting in Europe.  These containers sound as alluring as their sweet contents. Alas, they were an ephemeral art and very few have survived. Oddly, some English sweetmeat boxes and bags of an earlier generation have outlived the pretty toys of the French.

This damascened sweetmeat box, “The Dudley Box,” was given to Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, the favourite of Queen Elizabeth I.


Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.


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