What is “Treen”?

Treen or Treenware are small wooden items. It is an English term; in the United States, we refer to the items as woodenware. Treen means “made of a tree”.

Treen items were everyday containers and tools in the home, on the farm, or trade and professional items. The items were small, and from one piece of wood. Usually handmade, however some were carved using a foot-pedal lathe. The items were functional, designed for use and not ornamental, and, therefore, were not carved with decoration. Treen has a wonderful, rich patina that indicates the age and a true working object. It was made between medieval times and the late 19th century. The wood was usually a finely grained source. 

Examples of collectible kitchen items include, but are not limited to: butter stamps and molds, biscuit molds, butter paddles, noggins (measures), spice boxes, dough bowls, cups, chalices, platters and trenchers. Trenchers, dough bowls and bowls were used to make bread, chop vegetables, serve food, feed animals, etc. They were an important, multipurpose item found in every home.

Treen items make wonderful display items. Expect the items to how its age, but avoid cracks, holes or damage other than the normal signs of wear. Stains, chop marks, burn marks and uneven edges will attest the age of the item. Beeswax can be applied to enhance the patina and protect the item from the environment.

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