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Bandbox And Lid, Old US Capitol

This is a Bandbox and lid. It is dated ca. 1830 and we acquired it in 1913. Its medium is block-printed paper on pasteboard support. It is a part of the Wallcoverings department.

This bandbox illustration shows the US Capitol Building as it looked between the years 1826 and 1850. Initial construction on the Capitol began on September 18, 1793 and was completed in stages, with the senate north wing being completed in 1800, and the House of Representatives south wing completed in 1811. Not long after the completion of both wings the building was partially burned by the British in 1814. Reconstruction began the following year and continued through 1826. This reconstruction included the addition of the columned portico and the first low dome on the capitol. By 1850 it was clear the building could not accommodate the growing number of legislators and an expansion was planned, which also included the new larger dome. So it is clear the bandbox illustrates the Capitol building prior to the 1850 expansion. Many of the early landscape wallpaper designs were inspired by, or copies of, existing prints and this illustration closely resembles a daguerreotype by John Plumbe made in 1846.
Bandboxes were quite popular during the first half of the 19th century and were used for the storage and transport of men's collar bands, hats, and as general carryalls. While some bandbox exteriors were covered with wallpaper, most were wrapped with papers made specifically for coverings bandboxes. These papers frequently contained landscape, hunt or mythological scenes. During the 1830s-40s many papers were printed with scenes commemorating historic events. They could be rather crudely printed in just a few colors and often show a naiveté found in art.

This object was featured in our Object of the Week series in a post titled Documenting U.S. History on a Carryall.

This object was donated by Mrs. James O. Green. It is credited Gift of Mrs. James O. Green.

  • Textile, Big City
  • cotton.
  • Museum purchase from General Acquisitions Endowment Fund.
  • 2007-5-2

Our curators have highlighted 6 objects that are related to this one. Here are three of them, selected at random:

  • Sidewall (USA)
  • machine-printed on cotton rag paper.
  • Gift of The Museum at The Fashion Institute of Technology.
  • 1998-75-142

Its dimensions are

H x W x D: 28 x 42.8 x 33 cm (11 in. x 16 7/8 in. x 13 in.)

Cite this object as

Bandbox And Lid, Old US Capitol; USA; block-printed paper on pasteboard support; H x W x D: 28 x 42.8 x 33 cm (11 in. x 16 7/8 in. x 13 in.); Gift of Mrs. James O. Green; 1913-12-4-a,b

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibitions Hewitt Sisters Collect and The Cooper-Hewitt Collections: A Design Resource.

This image is in the public domain (free of copyright restrictions). You can copy, modify, and distribute this work without contacting the Smithsonian. For more information, visit the Smithsonian’s Terms of Use page.

If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Bandbox And Lid, Old US Capitol |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=23 March 2023 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>