Spruce Gum Boxes were handmade by Maine lumbermen to hold their cherished spruce (chewing) gum. These were made before chewing gum was available in commercial packages. Many times these were used as gifts. Spruce Gum Boxes are likened to the scrimshaw produced by whalers and represent a distinctly Maine folk art.
Spruce Gum Boxes are typically made from native Maine pine and fashioned in the form of small boxes or books. They are often decorated with chip carving. This example is in the form of a small book. Just 5" by 3 3/4" by 1 3/8" the solid piece of pine has been hollowed out with both ends sealed with slide lids. The bottom is fixed but the top lid slides open to allow access to the box. As is typical, the front of the box is decorated with a nicely chip carved border.
What makes this Spruce Gum Box unique is the hand painted scene on the cover. The coastal scene depicts a bay surrounded by a rocky shore and path with a distant vessel heading for its berth. This beautifully delicate cameo is signed Helmier. This is the only Spruce Gum Box we have seen that combines chip carving and a painted scene.
The box is in excellent condition with its original surface. There is a non-functional age crack on the back side.