Antique Treen 'Go to Beds'

Friction matches were invented and sold around 1826. The first matches didn’t contain phosphorus. These were introduced around 1830. Friction matches of this period needed to be stored in protective match boxes as these matches could spontaneously combust if knocked or on exposure to heat and so the small boxes were developed made in a variety of materials from silver, wood, brass to ceramics and glass.

The earlier antique treen 'Go to beds' tended to be plain, without inlay etc, allowing the polished hard woods to be admired. These boxes usually have screw on lids with a small bone or brass boss on the lid for placing the wax match in and hence where the term ‘Go to Bed’ comes, ( as it is reported that they were used as a light source to get into bed with).

The small wax matches would have been stored inside. They usually have an indentation to the underside of the base for glass paper to strike the matches against. Sometimes the bases or the sides of these boxes are grooved in some way to create friction.

It is also known that these antique treen boxes were placed on desks and used with a wax stick for sealing letters.

When the safety and stability of matches improved from the 1870’s protective match boxes weren’t necessary and open topped novelty match boxes became the fashion, ‘Go to beds” died out

The images below are all items in current stock, which will be going on the web site.

Note the bases showing ridges and glass paper, the different bosses to the lids and the large Tunbridge box with the addition of a candle socket to the lid as well.

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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.

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Address: Bath, Somerset       Contact Telephone: 07941 285532       Email: