Once upon a time a girl was driving home from an out of town bachelorette party when she discovered a quaint antique shop called d’Autrefois nestled in Amherst, Quebec. Of course she pulled over and wandered inside! The owner of the store was very welcoming and the space was jam packed from floor-to-ceiling with delightful finds.
After buying a few gift items for friends, she decided to buy something for herself- a wooden turquoise cheese box [used for storing cheese wheels] for $15. These boxes sell for between $10-$40 online.
This girl loves cheese & crackers, they are one of her favourite things to munch on – so it did not seem unreasonable to buy something related to cheese. She favours it all – brie, blue, goat, feta – you name it, it is in her fridge. The more she looked at her box after bringing it home the more she thought to herself – Who invented cheese? Who made the first ever cheese box?
What was interesting to her [what she came to find out] is there seems to be a mystery behind the history of cheese. It was said to have been created around 4,000 years ago, likely by accident but there is no pure evidence or fact around the who, what, when and where. What is known is cheese became really popular in in the 1800’s especially in America and it was said that the first factory in the U.S was built in the 1850’s. It came as no surprise when she found out it wasn’t until the late 1800’s [approx. 1890] that an engineer by the name of M. Ridel created a wooden box which was used to carry cheese. The box allowed for the cheese to be shipped near and far.
Based on how far it [cheese] dates back it would be a safe assumption that the first ever cheese box was made way earlier than the late 1800’s however was simply not well recorded. So the search lives on to confirm who invented cheese and made the first ever wooden cheese box. If there are any cheese experts reading this blog today I would appreciate some feedback.
The new vintage cheese box is now in my kitchen and I must say every time I look at it I wish there was still a big ol’ thing of cheese in it for me to munch on. Before I go I wanted to share what to look for when buying a cheese box/crate:
Labels – A label that you can read always helps determine value and can also increase buyer appeal. Most will be painted/stenciled on.
Stamps – Look for a stamp on the bottom of the box to tell you more about it. *In some cases it may be hidden in another area so always good to do a thorough run through.
Lid Condition – Large (wide & long) cracks along the top can mean the box may not be as profitable down the road. Stay away from buying a box with even minimal cracking as it will likely just get worse over time.
Wood Condition – Has the box been exposed to moisture? Check the inside of the box. Has it been warped at all or does the lid still fit correctly? Lids should feel a bit loose when on. Another consideration for wooden boxes is it is better if the wood has not been painted/refinished and is natural.*Mine [pictured above] is painted but I enjoy it anyways.
Size & Shape – Larger circular wooden boxes with lids can be repurposed for holding hats so they seem to be quite favourable. They are also used as pantry/decorative boxes. Whereas some cheese boxes are more crate styled -square with handles. I have seen people reuse these as plant holders etc. It is always good to know the purpose of what you want to use the box/crate for before buying.
Extras – I have seen motifs (hand-painted scenes) painted on these boxes. I would say it is all about the buyer and if that is something they want. Some people may pay more for a box that has a realistic duck scene on it while others may not if it is not original to the box.
I hope you have a nice Sunday. I look forward to telling you more about the cheese box and coming across something else that screams, C-H-E-E-S-E.
7 thoughts on “The Mysterious Cheese Box”
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