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Mauchline Box Ware at Dumfries Museum

Scottish souvenir wood ware is known as Mauchline ware because most of these small wooden items bearing pictures designed to appeal to 19th century tourists were made in the Ayrshire town of Mauchline. Mauchline ware originated in the late 1700s, when snuff-taking was fashionable. A new design of wooden hinge led to the handmade wooden snuff box becoming the most popular of a range of small wooden articles made as souvenirs of Scotland.

The industry flourished for 160 years and hundreds of thousands of high quality wood ware souvenirs were despatched to all parts of the British Isles, Europe, North and South America, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. By the 1820s there were over 60 box makers in Scotland with about 50 of them in the Ayrshire villages of Auchinleck, Cumnock, New Cumnock, Ochiltree, Catrine and Mauchline.

In the 1880s the souvenir wood ware industry started to decline. German-made imitation Mauchline ware flooded the market, undercutting the Scottish manufacturers and by the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 the last of the companies had closed.