Absolutely Beautiful and Highly Collectable Victorian Shell Art Needle Case


Shipping to United States: Free

THE STORY - This little needle case was in the box containing 'Malcolm's Collection' of Sewing items, (please see the reverse painted pincushion for full explanation) and I found myself giving a gentle whistle at its beauty when I unwrapped it as it is covered in what must be hundreds of tiny little shells, all carefully placed to form the pattern of a stylised flower on the front and a stylised leaf on the back. The needle case is I am pretty certain Victorian. Indeed the Victorians loved their sea shells, becoming enthusiastic collectors, creating incredible items like imitation flower arrangements and indeed whole grottos. But as the passion for shell art grew so did the desire to have more exotic shells from overseas and shops were set up selling these exotic shells. In 1833 Marcus Samuel opened his shop selling shells and curios to collectors being described in 1851 as a shell merchant in the census of that year and indeed that company went on in future generations to become the global oil company we know today as Shell. I not being a shell expert am uncertain whether the shells on this needle case are all native to the British Shores or whether some of them were purchased from a Shell merchant, but for some reason I have a sense that this needle case although so finely made is likely to be made by the hand of an amateur as it looks like the shells were stuck on to an already made needle case with a foil cover. Inside the little case are four little cloth pages where the needles could be placed for safe keeping and as I look at it now I have just noticed that there is a number written on the top outside corner which looks like 4 114, which I have no idea what it means, but it is possible to see it in the fifth photo.

AGE - Circa 1850

CONDITION - The needle case is in good condition. I do want to point out that when I was photographing it the sun came out giving a wonderful warm tone to the majority of the photos and for me the best and most honest representation of it colour is the eighth photo so I would say it is more grey and pink than honey and pink. Also as I hope you can see from the photos a number of the shells have been damaged and some of them have fallen away. The cloth binding the case still holds both the front and the back but obviously is not as strong as it once was and cloth inserts have worn with only the front one free of holes and the back one having by far the largest hole.

DIMENSIONS (Approx) - Height 2&3/4" / 7cm, Width 1&7/8" / 4,75cm / Depth 3/4" / 2cm

I don't think it was just the aesthetic beauty of this little needle case that made me catch my breath, I think it was the sense that I was holding an item that has been loved and cherished from the hand that made it and used to it to that collector who owned it. And I have to say in all my research that I have done since, there is not one example of Victorian Shell Art that compared with the sheer beauty of design and the number of shells used, the nearest likeness were the beautiful Sailors Valentines from overseas. It is an amazing little item.

Shipping from United Kingdom

Processing time

3-5 business days

Customs and import taxes

Buyers are responsible for any customs and import taxes that may apply. I'm not responsible for delays due to customs.

Payment Options

Secure options
  • Accepts Etsy gift cards

Returns & Exchanges

I gladly accept returns and exchanges

Just contact me within: 14 days of delivery

Ship items back to me within: 30 days of delivery

I don't accept cancellations

But please contact me if you have any problems with your order.

The following items can't be returned or exchanged

Because of the nature of these items, unless they arrive damaged or defective, I can't accept returns for:

  • Custom or personalized orders
  • Perishable products (like food or flowers)
  • Digital downloads
  • Intimate items (for health/hygiene reasons)

Legal imprint