But to return to the subject of work-boxes. By the time I found out for myself what a vast amount of pleasure can be produced by a ball of crochet cotton and a hook, my old work-box was no longer in existence.
This Crimson Silk Pincushion has groups of flowers and fruit finely carved in ivory on each side.
A round Pin-cushion with Chinese carving on the top. The small barrel is a tape measure.
A Wooden Case for packets of needles, brown ornamented with gilt.
I made shift with a work-basket and similar frauds, till at last it was borne in upon me that I must have a work-box, and a very comprehensive one too. I had all sorts of oddments in the way of fittings, and I got tired of rattling them about in an incapable work-basket, and diving for them to the bottom of a much-tangled-up work-bag.
I wandered around the shops, but the work-boxes they showed me seemed curiously inadequate in every particular - there was no room for anything in most of them, and they were singularly uninteresting as a whole in their appearance.
Nothing so convinces you that you want and must have a thing, as the fact that you can't get it! and by this time, all my spare moments seemed occupied with a craving for a nice work-box,
Beeswax, mounted with mother-of-pearl.
I even started to design one at last&8222; only the design was never finished, because I could not make up my mind as to the exact number of compartments I should require.
Fortunately, when my need was becoming most acute, someone sent me a present of a box, that not only had as many compartments as I had longed for, but ever so many to spare; moreover, the box was so beautiful in itself, that it was, and still is a constant joy just to look at it.
This box is antique, and was evidently made in the Bast. So solid is it, that it is almost as heavy as a sewing machine to lift; but it stands always on a convenient side table, so its weight does not worry me. It is inlaid most exquisitely with ivory, tortoise shell, silver, in addition to light and dark wood; the workmanship of the whole is wonderful. There are twenty-three roomy compartments in the top tray&8222; and vast space below.
At last I had a respectable box for my many oddments; and it was not long before the collection grew; friends contributed items; relations turned out ancient put-away work-boxes and found little fittings which they sent me. And in a very little time it transpired that I had a work-box that was really something worth caring for and cherishing. The hobby has grown till now my work-box stands for all sorts of pleasant memories, and I can see myself in my old age getting quite garulous over it!
A mother-of-pearl and gilt thimble holder.
A Needle-case covered with blue, green, red, and white beads.
Now for the contents. There are tiny pin cushions of various kinds, round, square and heart shape, some of ivory and silk, with the finest of Chinese carving on the top. A carved ivory box holds small glove buttons.
There are quaint long needle-cases, some are carved, one very uncommon one is of bone, covered with a fine network of beads, these hold silver bodkins, beautifully engraved. Tape measures appear in various forms and unwind themselves either from a barrel, or by turning the tail of a donkey, from the top of a kind of pepper-box lighthouse. This last is a noble ornament, because, in addition to the tape measure, it provides a pin cushion at its base.
The little Brass Bear .
There are quite a number of ornamental devices for holding bees-wax, some with silver ends, one with mother-of-pearl outside. Emery-bags also prevail, one taking the form of a charming little Dutch woman in a full green silk skirt. This is well over 60 years old.
There are needle books with various appropriate mottoes, such as "A stitch in time saves nine," a little wooden case for holding packets of needles, one or two carved wooden boxes for hooks and eyes, a pearl thimble case, an old-time "housewife," a little brass bear with a head that lifts up and makes room for darning needles inside him. (By the way, he is evidently the twin brother to the little brass bear described by Mrs. Barclay in The Rosary).
A pair of Silver Scissors.
Perforated cardboard was much patronized by our grandmothers. Among other things, I have an ornamental case for holding court plaster, made with perforated cardboard worked in red and blue silk. On one side are the appropriate wordswhile on the back is worked-Oh may you never, never feel A deeper wound than this can heal.
A Carved Needle-case.
Go, little case, Thy kind assistance lend, And cure when cut The finger of my friend.