This writing desk or writing box is from the late 1800’s. The box belonged to a friend of my husband’s family; a single woman who was a very close family friend. The box is full of letters, cards, photographs and notes. The box also contains styluses, nibs, and other writing paraphernalia. The handwriting on the letters is beautiful as is much of the stationery.
The box has a faux finish. The exterior of the box looks like a fine wood from a distance. Even up close you really have to study to determine that it is a faux finish and not a specific fine wood that the box is constructed from. The trim is painted on as well. The interior of the box is unfinished except for the writing surface which is covered with a purple felt. A small ribbon lift allows the interior compartment to be opened.
The front part of the box is divided into smaller sections for storage of the styluses and nibs. I don’t know what else had been stored there. Postage? The larger middle section is long enough to place the styluses in however it is difficult to reach in to remove one. The section is sort of deep. The smaller side sections are even more difficult to remove a nib from. The points of the nibs seem to tuck themselves into the cracks of the wood and make grasping them and removing them very difficult.
The writing instruments within the box include a glass stylus, several wooden styluses, and numerous nibs. The glass stylus is my favorite. All of the instruments have been well used; the ink stains and worn places add character and beauty.
You can tell that this box was used a lot. The many letters, cards and photographs in the box tell you that this box also served as a place for memorable correspondence. There is even a small prescription box that contains a lock of hair with a small blue bow on it. This box contains many special items.
I did a little research on these writing boxes and saw that they were very popular. That only makes good sense since writing letters was one of the only reliable sources of communication for most people. These small boxes allowed for writing materials to be kept together, to store stationery, keep postage and it is very portable. The box has a writing surface folded into the box which may be opened and used on a lap or set upon a table. The writing box could be tucked into a suitcase and could travel with the owner. This little box was very versatile and useful.
We have not disturbed the materials in this box except to look at them. We will allow the materials to remain in the box which will be handed down through the family as a reminder of earlier times. The letters and cards are precious. The handwriting on the envelopes puts all of our handwriting to shame. The beauty of the cursive writing is a joy to see. The dates and locations of the postmarks are a bit of history that are interesting. Because this box belonged to a close family friend many of the correspondents were also known to the family. This enriches the historical aspect of the writing box and makes it an even more precious item.