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!