Cherished for their reminder of a more genteel time, and perhaps sweet memories of tea and cookies, collectable antique biscuit barrels are quickly gaining popularity among collectors.



Not only are they a wonderful way to serve cookies, they are all just so darn beautiful!  Just one makes your tea table a stand-out, a collection of them are works of art when displayed together.

The first biscuit barrels appeared in England around 1860 and quickly became en vogue as an essential serving piece for any society hostess.  Perhaps inspired by the barrels in which biscuits were stored on ships, the “barrels” remained popular until the early 1900’s.


Made by many manufacturers,  biscuit barrels come in many forms, hand painted porcelain, silver plated, sometimes sterling, hand cut crystal and English oak barrels with silver mounted hardware.  They are also sometimes called biscuit jar or biscuit box, depending on their shape.

Not actually intended for biscuit (the English term for cookie) storage, the biscuit barrels were never airtight.  Meant for presenting delicate tea biscuits or scones at tea time, these biscuit jars were highly esteemed for their ability to add another layer of  beauty to the tea table.



Biscuits were transferred to a luxurious biscuit barrel in the kitchen, and an ”upstairs maid” would proudly present this to guests on the tea trolley in the formal parlor. When tea time was done, the leftover cakes and cookies were brought back to the below stairs kitchen and transferred to a cookie tin for safe storage.



Driven by a passion to acquire another irresistible specimen, collectors are avid pursuers of antique biscuit barrels or jars of high quality. Our antique biscuit barrels and jars tend to sell quickly, and no wonder! Who doesn’t LOVE cookies, tea time and beautiful hand painted porcelain?

Here are a few tips to help you begin a collection of your own.

Tips for Collecting:

1. EDIT.  Choose biscuit barrels that speak to you personally. Don’t feel you have to collect every kind of biscuit barrel, unless you want to.  There are so many different kinds to chose from: silver barrels, hand painted floral biscuit barrels, English wood barrels, Cut Crystal barrels with silver handles and lids. Each has its own charms.


2. CHOOSE A COLOR PALETTE. Biscuit barrels come in all colors. Choose a color scheme that fits your home decor, and your collection will infuse your home with the colors you love.  Whether your style is traditional, or more contemporary in feeling, there are biscuit barrels that will fit the mood!

3. CHOOSE WISELY.  Take the time to learn about reproductions and what they look like.  You can often see wear on the bottom of the barrel, most silver tops and handles were plated, and have some wear from being used. Wear to the plating is acceptable, as long as it is not unsightly. A high quality biscuit barrel will cost from the low hundreds to several thousands, depending on the quality, rarity and manufacturer.

There is a biscuit barrel or jar for almost every budget!


Tips for Displaying your Collection:

1. USE DISCIPLINE. You don’t want to live in a museum. If you have a huge collection (and collections have a habit of growing) don’t display each and every biscuit barrel or cookie jar at once. Rotating your collection brings a completely new look to your rooms. Put a few of your pieces in storage, it will highlight the treasures that remain on display and give them the star treatment they deserve.



2. DISPLAY AS ART.  Especially if you have hand painted biscuit barrels, each one is an original work of art. A few biscuit barrels on a shelf, lit with a spotlight, will allow you to savor each antique beauty.

3. BE CREATIVE. Use your imagination, don’t limit your biscuit barrel’s use. Yes, they are works of art, they are beautiful when serving tea time treats, but allow your imagination to run a little wild!  Fill with lush flower bouquets for a romantic centerpiece. Use one in your guest bathroom to hold scented soaps. Use these darlings of the 1800’s to add beauty to your every days, not just for tea time.


A collection begins with just one! I hope you will investigate the sweet beauty of antique biscuit barrels and fall in love.


Don’t forget to enter to win Georgianna’s Book! {You can meet this talented author and photographer here if you missed my interview}




Shop for the best in French Antiques, furniture with the patina of age, vintage accessories to delight you and your family & friends, and French Country utilitarian pieces. Treasures that make your home fresh, beautiful, inspirational and uniquely yours. Visit our shop