Fueling my passion for all things antique and sewing related are these interesting little boxes that were at one time sold as "pin keeps". There was a time when these were a standard item in a woman's "toilet". In the 19th century the word toilet was used to describe the act of dressing or grooming ones-self and pins were often used as fasteners.
I love them for the novelty, the cute little cube shape and of course the lovely antique graphics. They are actually quite rare, made of cardboard not too many survived. I can imagine the appeal for young children with their building block quality... or a young restless and bored child mindlessly poking pins in holes to create infinite designs... not unlike my own son many years ago who loved making designs with the pins in my pincushion while I sat in front of the sewing machine. Later when I would reach for a pin I would see a smiley face looking back at me from my sawdust stuffed red tomato.
Pin keeps also were made from celluloid like this French variety featuring a courting couple. They were also commonly used as a means of advertising...here is a small "piece of the rock".I was also surprised to find this set of pins labeled as "office pins"...hmmmm...must have been used in lieu of paper clips....or to tack up the fallen hem of your petticoat that was stepped upon while hanging the gallery show!