An Obsession with Provenance

An important trend-driver is the need to know the origins of our “stuff”. Consumers want to know the story behind the items that they buy. From our food to our clothing and even current television shows, such as “Who Do You Think You Are?”, feeds the consumers desire to know the back-story. We shop at farmer’s markets and smile at the farmers. We watch “The Antique Roadshow” to hear the experts explain the provenance of a cache.

As antiquers, we find the stories behind the antiques engaging and we are more incline to purchase something that wets our appetite for history. We’ll stumble across an unknown item or name and immediately set out to learn more about the item. We like connecting the dots, playing the game, to find out as much as we can. We get excited for a partial worn label, a starting point for a new search. An item need not be exotic, but it does help us engage with the past.

A recent purchase of a wood box with a label led us to a candy company in St. Louis. The wood box has molded relief panels on the top and all four sides. The beautiful box was made for some very special chocolates. The label on the bottom said Mavakos Candies.

Mavakos Candies Wooden Box

In 1904, John Mavrakos moved to Saint Louis, Missouri and opened his first ice cream and candy store at Vandeventer Avenue and Oliver Street. In 1913, Mavrakos and his wife Madeline opened Mavrakos Candy Co. using his secret family recipes from Greece. The Mavrakos family sold the company in 1984. In 2009, Dan Abel relaunched the recipes. Visit the new Mavrakos Chocolate website at


Filed under Knowledge/History of Antique Item

3 responses to “An Obsession with Provenance

  1. Sharron Winters

    I have the exact same box. My husband got it from his grandmother before she passed away last year. I was wondering where it came from. Thanks for the information. Any idea what it is worth? I was told by a family member that if it is worth something that I should insure it. I don’t know if I should, I already have homeowners insurance.

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