Victorian Bedtime - The Tale Of The Go-To-Bed Match Safe

Favourite Finds


Ahoy there!  Welcome to another instalment of 'Blog Post Monday'.

Another week, another lovely little antique find.  This week's find is all about the miniature, all about the novelty and all about going to bed, my three favourite things!  I stumbled across the absolute sweetest, what is known as a 'go-to-bed match holder'.  I've had a variety of different ones before but I've go to say that none of them have been quite as sweet as this one!  It's so sweet in fact that I've decided to dedicate this week's blog post to it.

So, as always, get that kettle on and sing me a lullaby as we fall deep into the miniature world of the antique go-to-bed match holder...


Image:  this week's sweet go-to-bed find 


Go-to-bed match holders or boxes were essentially fire safety accessories which became popular throughout the mid-to-late 19th century.  They were quite small and often made of a metal, although there are also wood and ivory examples.


Image:  this week's sweet go-to-bed find


Most were designed with a 'match strike', a rough surface on which the match was struck.  They would also have a small hole or finial, in which a lit match would sit, exactly like a miniature candle. 


Image:  this week's sweet go-to-bed find 


When it was time to go-to-bed, obviously, you'd need lighting to enable you to get ready.  Just like an onion, you'd have several layers [of clothing] to peel off, then of course you'd have your bed clothes to get into and on top of this there was the opening and drawing of the bed curtains, as well as the turning down of the blankets.  All of this having to be done with a candle burning. 


Image:  an older novelty match safe / go-to-bed that I've owned 


Of course, with everything made of linen, there was a real fire hazard and the utmost caution had to be used.  With this in mind, your only source of light, the ol' candle holder, would have to be placed on a dresser on the other side of the room, well away from the flammable fabrics.


Image:  an older novelty match safe / go-to-bed that I've owned 


However, upon completing your bedtime goals, the million dollar question is, how did you get from the other side of the room where your candle was sat and needing to be extinguished, back to your bed, in complete darkness and without hurting yourself...?


Image:  an older novelty match safe / go-to-bed that I've owned 


Well, you would use a 'Go-To-Bed'.  You'd place a match in the Go-To-Bed and light it just before the candle was snuffed out.  This would then allow you just enough time to get back across the room to your bed, close the bed curtains and cover up for a cold winter's night's sleep, before the match burned out.  In fact, it allowed you approximately thirty seconds!


Image:  an older novelty match safe / go-to-bed that I've owned 


There is huge variety in the designs of these lovely pieces.  Some were quite simple, in a basic box or cylindrical form, but others were rather fun novelty designs too, just like the ones I've owned (pictured throughout).  They are now very collectable pieces and are something I'm always very drawn to!


Image:  an older novelty go-to-bed that I've owned  


I guess it's the story behind these pieces and the miniature novelty element that I'm drawn in by every time!  I don't know about you but I can vividly see these items being used in bedrooms all those years ago.  In fact, just like other popular pieces of the time, these items can still fulfill their purpose, and aren't usable antiques just the best kind of antiques...!?



Well, that's it for this week folks.  I hope you've enjoyed this little look into the world of 19th century bedtime.  As always, let me know what you think in the comments section below.

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So, until next week, stay safe, keep buying those antiques and keep spreading that Source Vintage love!




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  • Barry Navarre Sr. on

    I have several of these Victorian Go-To-Beds. One like yours , one like an owl, and one like a standing chimney sweep. They are interesting and they are widely liked when I show them at antique fairs. Thank you for posting yours,… Barry

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