Vintage Daniel Smith palette, not for sale

There is an abundance of travel sketch kits, but I bet there aren’t too many of these around anymore. I received this Daniel Smith brass paint kit as a gift years ago but haven’t used it recently for a number of reasons, in particular because I use too much water in my mixes, and my brushes are too big. I took it out this week though, knowing I might need it for restricted-space sketching activities. On the outside it’s a perfectly beautiful object — rectangular, hinged, and with a thick brass closure on one side.


Open it up to reveal everything you need for sketching, minus the brush: twelve spots for paint (six more if you add a few half pans in there), a water bottle, a divided reservoir for rinsing your brushes, five enamel mixing surfaces (if you count the water bottle surface) and a hole for your thumb. What more does a sketcher need?

I filled it this week with some colours I don’t use often, among them Green Gold, Cendre Blue and Cadmium Orange, just so I could have an alternative to my standard colours.OpenAnd then I used it this morning when Urban Sketchers Montreal met for our monthly outing, this month at a Dim Sum restaurant. It fits perfectly in my left hand while I sketch, and in places where the table linens are white (and you don’t necessarily want to put your paints on the table) it can rest on your lap. It also works really well when I paint in the car because it balances on the console between the driver’s and the passenger’s seat. It won’t replace the larger palette I use most of the time, but it’s a great alternative for those times when a little furtive sketching is on the menu.


30 Comments on “Vintage Daniel Smith palette, not for sale”

  1. Robyn France says:

    Absolutely love this one! It is so evocative of the experience.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. marctaro says:

    That’s a beautiful kit! It makes me think you should be on a trek across North Africa or some kind of ‘old timey’ sketching expedition.


  3. That is such a cleverly designed box.


  4. Sheila says:

    Hi Shari

    I really enjoy receiving you blog postings and look forward to what you are going to sketch next. I was wondering if you would care to share how you carry your gear especially your brushes. I’m always struggling with how to pack them so they travel safely.





  5. Barbara Beynon says:

    Thanks for showing your DS palette. I hadn’t ever seen one. Seems the appropriate size for the beautiful dim sum portraits.


  6. TonyU says:

    Beautiful and practical in one small package. A wonderful thing to own and use and I can sense how much you treasure it.


    • You are right Tony. I think part of the reason I don’t use it that often is that I treasure it so much and I’m afraid it might get ruined somehow. But I’m glad I took it out and filled it.


  7. zuzala says:

    Since you don’t use it too often, anytime you think you might want to part with it.. please remember me. 🙂


  8. Monique says:

    Oh you lucky duck..vintage and Dim Sum♥
    I found a great ..not vintage..cloverleaf one from the UK..:) Pricey..our exchange,,ugh..everywhere..
    this one suits you so well!!
    The artwork is BEAUTIFUL and so is the Vintage DS.


  9. joantav says:

    Nice palette! Glad you have something small for those times when you don’t want to be obvious! Nice dim sum sketch.


  10. monique says:

    that’s beautiful shari : Makes me ….want some daiel smith .. asap


  11. Chris Rusk says:



  12. Linda Daily says:

    What a lovely paint kit. I can’t imagine something quite that fine from Daniel Smith….it looks more like a vintage Winsor-Newton from many years ago. I’m glad to hear you brought it out and put it to use for a worthy subject….Dim Sum!


  13. This may sound odd or geeky, but it’s good to have something like that around. I’ve found a wonderful venue for plein air in re-enactments. All those costumes, all that color! If you also can blend in by having equipment that can pass for an earlier period, you can get some great pictures and willing subjects. The interior may be plastic, but the exterior is perfect.
    And the Dim Sum painting, wonderful bamboo steamers and the dishes, you even captured an Oriental minimalist look! Wonderful.


  14. Marlene Lee says:

    love this vintage DS watercolor box…and love your paintings as well…in fact all of them!


  15. Jan Elliott says:

    I have the same DS box, I purchased it so many years ago. I often take it plein air painting. Love your painting!


  16. Randy Schaffer says:

    I ran across a bit of history on this wonderful box over at wetcanvas…

    Frazer Price designed the box and it was manufactured in England and offered for sale in 1985…DS and others offered it up into the early 90’s. It was sold as the “Frazer Price Palette Box” which seems to be a good search tool on ebay and the like.

    The wetcanvas forum has the complete story from Frazer Price. I hope to stumble across one of these someday!


  17. mlaiuppa says:

    What a beautifully designed compact travel palette. Everything you could need. I’d put in 12 half pans and then some travel brushes and it would be self contained except for a journal.

    Well, there are 4,999 still out there. Someone is going to be willing to sell on some day. I guess I’ll start searching.


    • It is a perfect self-contained palette. And I bet if you keep watching you will find one!


      • mlaiuppa says:

        Success! Once I knew what I was looking for it only took patience. I bought a Frazer Price (which made the Daniel Smith one you have) from eBay UK. They offered international shipping thankfully so I was able to bid. I am so thrilled. Can’t wait for it to arrive. Should be any day now.

        I might add that it would be easier to find one on the UK eBay site than on the U.S. one. I doubt that many were sold in the U.S. and those that have them are unlikely to part with them. But I saw three on the U.K. ebay site. One lady wouldn’t ship to the U.S. and ended her auction early because she decided to keep her box. But two weeks later, there was another one! Mine is slightly used and has some used half pans in it but has all of it’s original everything, plus a brochure and the original box.


  18. Rlschaffer says:

    Jackson’s Art Supply in London has recently (Spring/Summer 2021) reintroduced this Frazer Price brass box. Cost seems reasonable for a brass box ($117 US). I have ordered one, and cannot wait for it to arrive. The reintroduction looks to have followed all of the original design specifications except it now has an electroplated brass coating on a brass body rather than a lacquered brass body. The Jackson’s blog has a good overview.


    • Thanks for sending this. You are not the first person to share the link with me, but I appreciate this. The cost is very reasonable. This is an amazing kit and you will love it!! I will read the overview because I just love this box!! I hope you enjoy yours.


  19. -N- says:

    I have one of these kits, too, and am going to bring it along on my road trip so I can use it with colors for a class I am taking online. I had forgotten about it, but in searching for small goodies to travel with, there it was! I thought I would look this kit up online, and here you are. And there is one for sale on eBay – asking price is a mere $700.00 USD – egad!


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