Antique Tartanware Go to Bed.

From our latest English shopping trip.

Tartanware "Go to Bed" matchbox.

Tartanware “Go to Bed” matchbox.


A “Go to Bed” is a small matchbox (vesta) used in Victorian times. The matches were held inside the box. A match would be struck and then the match itself or a lit piece of straw would be placed in the top of the box in the finial. This would provide just enough light to see yourself to bed in the cold short days of winter.

Our “Go to Bed” is an example of Tartanware. Tartanware was produced in the Scottish town of Mauchline from the early 1800s to 1933. Tartanware is the name given small wood objects covered in tartan papers and sold as Scottish souvenirs.

Scotland has always drawn tourists because of the natural beauty of the area. In 1852, Prince Albert purchased Balmoral estate in the Scottish Highlands for Queen Victoria. Soon, the area was flush with middle class tourists, all wanting to take home mementos of their trip. The small tartanware items were a hit. They were colorful and easy to pack for the journey back home on the train.

Originally, they were hand painted; however, in 1853, new machines were invented to speed up the manufacturing process. Tartan designs were applied to paper, via the machines, and then glued to small everyday objects made from local sycamore wood. Boxes and sewing items were especially popular. The items were heavily varnished, which explains why it is still possible to find these antique items in good condition today.

The production of tartanware ceased in 1933 after a fire destroyed the printing machinery.


Following the Olympics? What about curling? Interesting fact: Curling Stones are also made in the same area of Scotland.

Tartanware: Dram Cup and Go to Bed.

Tartanware: Dram Cup and Go to Bed.

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