his example is based on boxes/canisters recovered from the wreck of the Mary Rose, which sank outside Portsmouth in 1545 as King Henry VIII watched. Of the 19 canisters found, most were in the barber-surgeon's chest.  They had been turned on a lathe* and made of poplar or ash, probably on the Continent. They came in an assortment of sizes. Lines had been incised on the outside and there were gentle tapers in the shapes, which facilitated the grip when removing the lids. Lids were held by friction.

The barber-surgeon of the Mary Rose most likely stored ointments in them.  A German illustration from 1425 shows such a canister being turned on a pole lathe.  This type of wooden container was used in pharmacies/chemists into the early years of the 20th century.

The canister pictured is of poplar and stands less than four inches high.  It's finish is linseed oil, turpentine and beeswax; inside is unfinished wood (and poplar is not toxic) so it can be used for storage of dry food items.

contact: bls@syler.com Return to menu

*The pole lathe was commonly used at that time.