Early Gutta Percha Collar Box

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This is one great old Collar Box that has all the proper labels. The lid is of a Masonic motif made from the early Gutta Percha material (Early plastic).   Gutta Percha is a rubber-like material that comes from the dried sap of sapodilla trees of East Asia. It was the major product used for golf ball manufacture from around 1848 well into the 1900’s. The term is erroneously used for caoutchouc bookbinding as gutta percha was tried and found to be unsuitable.  They were not made from wood per se, but from a combination of wood fiber and shellac mixed together to form a material that its inventor called "Union" - thus the name. The man responsible for this material was Samuel Peck. He was one of the owners of the Scoville Company, which made cases for photographs from leather and papier-mâché as well. )

Cases for photos were also made from a material called "gutta percha," which was a kind of rubbery substance derived from the latex sap of certain kinds of trees that grow in the Far East.  It was not long before other companies had duplicated Peck's product and were making Union cases of their own.

The box is about 4 ½ inches high and 5 by 5-inches square and was for storing a size 11 ½ collar, size stamp on the front. The inside still contains the original purple black store label, very few retain this label. The label is from the Williams & Foster store and reads  "Dealers in Clothing, Hats, furs and Gent’s Furnishing Goods with 'one price only' 36 E. King Street Lancaster, PA." There is also a New York Tax stamp on the bottom of the box.

A special "Thank You" to Brother Fred Lowstetter for donating the above Masonic Collar Box to our museum collection!

Men's Collars in History

Men's collars are not the first thing most think of when one thinks of men's historical fashion. Never the less they were quite important in there day. They were used to help preserve shirts. Since men usually wore under shirts the places of most contact between skin and shirt was at the collar and the cuffs.  By making a removable collar and cuff that could be washed separately you didn't have to wash the shirt as often.

They came into being around the 1860's when clothing was expensive and hand made for the most part.  Once the factories started making clothing in mass production, making clothing less expensive and more available the separate collar and cuff didn't save any time or resources any more. They ended in the 30's.

This is a page from the 1897 Sears Catalogue.




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