Collecting Treen

Treen, meaning "of wood" is the generic name attributed to small functional items made from wood. Treen encompasses such items as small bowls, needle cases, vesta cases, card cases, and snuff boxes. It can also be used to describe small wooden domestic and agricultural objects.

Antique treenware can be quite beautiful and becomes more so with the passing of time.  Wood seems to go on living beyond the life of the tree it came from developing rich colour and vibrancy with every passing year. 

Before the advent of large-scale manufacturing processes and the development of cheap metals and plastics in the industrial process, wood played a much greater role as the raw material for common objects of the time. Items were carved or turned from close grained woods such as box, beech, and sycamore. Occasionally more exotic woods were utilised such as mahogany, or lignum vitae because of its density and strength.


Wooden objects have survived less well than those made of metal and stone being less resilient to the abuses of everyday living and being more susceptible to damage as a result of water or temperature variations. Many of the items that have survived are treasured by collectors who are able to appreciate the history and function of these once commonplace objects. Due to the  tactile nature  of the treenware and with the transfer of oil from hand to wood, many of these pieces have developed a beautiful patination that comes only with the passing of time and which is impossible to replicate or fake and which in turn enhances the collectability and attraction of the piece.

I am fortunate to live close to the collection of treen donated to the Birmingham Museum and art Gallery by Edward Pinto (1901 - 1972). The collection consists of some 7000 individual pieces of the highest quality. The opportunities for collecting in this area are manifold and treen items can be purchased at a range of prices. 

I like to stock quality treen items when I can here at Green Parrot Antiques & Collectables. Please see the Photo Gallery section for current or recent examples.