I recently finished restoring these two 19th century travel boxes and they're so beautiful that I had to share them on my blog. They were in pretty good condition when I purchased them, but they needed a little care. They're both from France and they have a very similar style to them. They also both had working keys, which is really cool. These would have been used for traveling or painting en plein air, which makes me wish they could talk and tell me where they've been!
This first set of photos is of the smaller box which is for watercolors. The box includes some inner compartments, a water container with detachable cups, a sea sponge, an old brush and an enameled palette. The quality of the wood that was used to make the box is wonderful and it really shined after I waxed and buffed it. I see a little paint residue on the palette so I'm guessing that someone used it at one time.
This next set of photos is of the oil painting box, which is larger and includes a beautiful folding palette (with some very old paint on it), medium containers, some palette knives and brushes. The entire box is truly a work of art.
These final two images show some of my working tools, which is an old set of flathead screw drivers that nest inside one another. I love having high quality tools in my own tool box to work with.
When I was working on these boxes, I actually got pretty bummed. I realized, once again, that people really don't make beautiful things like this nowadays. These boxes are over 120 years old and still usable! I know there's still some true craftsman out there who really care about their products, but most of it is disposable garbage. I understand why that is, but it still makes me sad.
Besides the high level of quality, another reason I love antiques is because of the history behind these items. I wonder who owned these? What paintings did they paint with these? As I said earlier, I wish these boxes could tell me where they've been.
If you're wondering if I'll use these boxes myself: I'll admit that I find it difficult to imagine using them en plein air mainly because I don't want to mess them up or lose any parts. I might decide to use them eventually, but for now I just enjoy having them in my studio.