Portable writing chest

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Portable writing chest, 18th century. Carved wood, ornamental metal hinges and handles. Museum objects collection, for many years in the Friends of the Library Room. Distinguished Furniture Collection 25807. Gift of Pratt.

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A hand-written poem glued to the back of the chest is by Marion Couthouy Smith (1853-1931), “Old Treasures,” published in The Final Star: Poems (New York, J. T. White & Co., 1918) Rare Books (Ex) 3936.05.334.

“Oh, things once treasured, things that cannot die!
Your mute appeal is sharper than a cry;”

Thanks to Stephen Ferguson, we know “Miss Marion Couthouy Smith was born in Philadelphia, Pa., October 22, 1853. Her parents were Henry Pratt, of Philadelphia, and Maria Couthouy Williams, of Boston. She was educated at Miss Anable’s School in Philadelphia, Pa. Her principal literary works consist of magazine articles and poems contributed to the Century, Atlantic Monthly, The New England Magazine, and other publications… ” She lived in East Orange, New Jersey.

Presumably, a member of the Pratt family donated this box, which has been in our collection for many years. It was inventoried in 1970 as part of Princeton’s distinguished furniture collection.
“Distinguished Furniture Committee,” Princeton Weekly Bulletin 67, no. 14 (January 30, 1978).