What are Antique Treen Go to Beds?

Having just bought a collection of antique treen 'Go to beds' I thought I would write a small article on them. Sometimes known as protective match boxes they are small pots or boxes having a circular glass paper striker usually to the base of the box, although sometimes circular rings on these boxes act as the striker. The antique treen boxes are mainly made in lignum vitae or ebony with a small brass, ivory or bone boss to the top where the wax match would be placed when lit this would give someone enough time to go upstairs to bed hence the name or sometimes used for sealing letters, the matches would be stored inside the pots or boxes.

Protective match boxes were initially necessary due to the phosphorus matches introduced in the 1830s being liable to spontaneously combust with just a knock or exposure to warmth, can you imagine what health and safety would say!!!! Even worse previous to this,these boxes/ pots contained bottles of sulphuric acid and matches stored right next to the acid, tipped with potassium chlorate,sugar and gum and ignited by dipping into the acid.

Some are stamped with the Berry patent where the inner ring would store the acid and the matches were stored in a separate outer ring, these became obsolete with the introduction of friction matches.

When safety matches were invented around 1870 these protective boxes or Go to Beds were no longer necessary.

They are great pieces of antique treen to collect being made in a variety of materials from wood, tin, silver some are painted, most are small measuring between approx 5cmm-9cm in height and now could be used to store matches in without the worry that they may spontaneously combust!


Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
We first became involved in Antique Treen and furniture some twenty five years ago and since then a passion for Treen, small wooden snuff boxes and decorative wooden items has developed into Opus Antiques.

This web site shows only a  small selection of our current stock for sale, if you are looking for something you don't see, please contact us.


We are also interested in buying Antique Treen items. As well as using our Contact page, you can also email or telephone us on 07941 285532


The word Treen is derived from the word tree and is a term used to describe wooden household objects, all turned from one piece of wood e.g. a bowl, plate, gingerbread mould, and spoons, always having a function.

Nowadays when we talk about Antique Treen it tends to cover all small wooden items including antique snuff boxes, candle stands, spice towers, etc. often made from several pieces of turned wood.


When a piece of wood has been painstakingly turned or carved, handled, polished and loved over a few hundred years old, it can develop a wonderful colour and patina and becomes an irresistible piece of Antique Treen.

  • Pinterest
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Instagram

We Accept

Address: Bath, Somerset       Contact Telephone: 07941 285532       Email:  sally.honey@icloud.com