Restoring a Victorian-Era Double-Hinge Writing Slope

I’ve often been told that if you restore an antique, you ruin its value. Not a belief that I have ever wholeheartedly followed. Mostly because it varies significantly on a case-by-case basis. A slipshod, half-assed restoration can destroy an antique. A careful, loving restoration can increase an antique’s value significantly. The difference is knowing when to restore something, and whether your actions could damage the item irreparably.

Take for example, this item:

I purchased this during a day-trip down the coast. It’s a very, very battered late-19th century gentleman’s writing-box. I bought it because I’d never seen a box of this style with this type of metalwork on the lid before. As far as old writing-boxes go, it was very cheap, and I daresay if I hadn’t bought it, it would’ve been thrown out as a useless bit of old tat, sooner or later. I figured that if I did buy it, then I could restore it and use it as my own personal writing-slope. I didn’t want to use any of my nicer ones, in case I damaged them. This one was already in ‘rustic’ condition, shall we say – so I wouldn’t feel too guilty about using it, since there was very little of value left to damage!!

See what I mean?? This box’s list of ailments was impressive, to say the least. Let’s see now…

– No key.
– Torn accessories caddy.
– Broken organiser.
– Broken inkstand.
– Ink stains everywhere.
– Inkwell was falling apart, and leaking like a sieve.
– Scratches and grime all over the place.
– Broken divider between the inkwell and pen-rest.
– Completely devoid of writing accessories.
– Aide Memoire was shot to a million pieces.

Repairing the Inkstand The first and easiest repair was fixing the inkstand. This is just three or four pieces of wood which just slot together. Unfortunately, someone glued them together. Someone else then tried to pull it apart, and broke the wood at the glued joints. I pulled the wood apart and used a very sharp knife to cut away the glue and separate the wood. I glued back the broken parts as they were originally intended, and then slotted everything back together, without glue or nails or screws to hold it together (as it was originally designed to do).

The writing-slope with the inkstand disassembled. Removing this also allowed me to clean up a lot of the ink that you can see in the corner, from the leaking inkwell. I used extra-fine steel wool for that. It scrubs away the majority of the ink without seriously damaging the wood finish.

Once that was done, I had to measure and cut a new divider between the pen-rest and the inkwell. The old one was broken in half, and the removable pen-rest kept sliding back and forth, knocking against the inkwell. It was a simple repair and easily accomplished.

Repairing the Leather Not so easy was repairing the leather. The writing-slope had DEEP scratches, and many stains and blemishes, not to mention the fact that in areas, the leather was peeling off and in others, was gone completely! Fortunately the vast majority of the box was still leather-covered. I was able to glue down the loose bits, and then cleaned and polished the leather with dubbin and black shoe-polish. It removed some of the scratches and marks, but not all of them. Indeed, not even most of them. But it’s better than nothing! And far easier than ripping off all the leather and replacing it entirely!

Repairing the Organiser

Repairing the organiser (the two-slot space for storing papers), was significantly easier than trying to remove the blemishes from the leather. I had enough broken and loose bits of wood leftover in the box to trace, cut and stain extra parts of the correct size. I then glued them all back into place…

Replacing the Aide Memoire One of the biggest issues with this box was replacing the Aide Memoire. The two white shield-shaped panels on the lid. Really fancy writing-slopes have these made of sheets of purest ivory. Cheaper ones, they’re made of celluloid. And the really rock-bottom economy models (like this one!!) – they’re just cardboard! In fact they’re not even cardboard, they’re cardstock. The same stuff which Hallmark uses in all its fancy greetings-cards! The original aide memoire was so dilapidated it literally crumbled off on the way home. I scraped off the remainder with a knife…

…and then made tracings of the outlines. I cut two identical white, waxed cardstock templates and glued them into place. I measured and checked everything countless times, to ensure that they were as close to the originals as possible…

Gluing the Inkwell Back Together One of the biggest headaches about this writing-slope was the inkwell. After 100 years, it was falling apart in the most spectacular fashion, and I had no idea how to fix it. The inkwell is made up of three components: – A necked, glass bottle. – A threaded, brass collar that goes over the neck. – A threaded, brass cap that screws onto the collar. The collar is held onto the neck by some manner of filler-adhesive. Over 100 years or more, the adhesive had not only lost its grip, it had lost its integrity, too.

One good wiggle was all it needed to part neck from collar, in what was already a construct of the flimsiest condition. Fortunately, no element of the inkwell was broken when it came apart. I chipped, scraped and sanded off all the leftover adhesive-filler, and then I used two-part epoxy filler-adhesive, to glue the collar back onto the glass neck, and create a watertight seal. It was a bit messy, as glue is apt to be, but it got the job done with spectacular results! The inkwell is now whole again, leakproof and able to hold fluid without leaking everywhere!

Cutting a Key After all that came what was possibly the hardest task, which ironically, had been among the easiest in all my previous jobs! Finding a key for the lock! These old writing-boxes, generally, have very simple one-lever locks. A key with a barrel and head the right size is all that’s needed to turn the bolt. No fiddly teeth or notches required. Or at least, not normally. But this lock was proving more than cantankerous. It defied all my usual attempts to find a key for it.

I was on the verge of giving up and sending the whole damn thing to a locksmith, when I decided to give it all one last try. To send this to a locksmith would’ve cost me a prohibitive amount of money, and time, considering that a box of keys is only a few bucks. I purchased said box of keys, found one of an appropriate size, and then unscrewed the lock from the box, and then used a flat-head screwdriver to lever the plates apart…

Once sufficiently loosened, the entire thing fell apart. The lock is only made up of three components. The frontplate, the bolt, and the backplate, containing the lever and spring. This was just a one-lever lock. So I only had to file down a key to make it the right size to push against one item. Locks like this can have as many as three, five, or even eight levers, or more. After a lot of filing and testing, I got a key to fit the lock. I reassembled the lock…

…and then I hammered it back together, slotted it back into the box, screwed it down, and tied the key to the box-handle to stop it getting lost.

Finishing Touches After repairing the lock, the aide memoire, as much of the leather as I could, the inkstand and the inkwell, the organiser and wiping off a considerable amount of grime, all I hd left was the finishing touches. Cleaning it once more, and finding all the necessary bits and pieces to fill it up. Like all the bone and ivory to accessorize it with:

The ink-eraser knife, the letter-opener, and the page-turner (white thing on the pen-rest) are all ivory from the Victorian era. The dip-pen is bone. And here we have it. Is it perfect? Not really. But it’s the closest that we’re likely to get to ever seeing what the original condition of this box might’ve been, over 130 years ago.


Posted by on April 17, 2015 in Antiques


Antique Ivory – What is it? Where does it come from? How do you get it? Is it LEGAL?

I collect antiques.

I have done for quite a few years, now. And I consider myself to be at least reasonably knowledgeable about the items which, and the periods from when I collect.

My main area of collection is antique writing accessories and equipment, although I will collect anything that catches my fancy, so as a result, my collection can be rather eclectic. Over the years I’ve noticed that I’ve amassed a small collection of ivory. And this is what this post is about. Ivory. What is is, how to I.D. it, where to find it, how to get it and all that other good stuff.

Ivory is beautiful. Ivory is rare. Ivory is expensive. And ivory is fraught with legal, moral and other kinds of difficulties. So let’s get right into it!

What Is Ivory?

In simplest terms, ivory is teeth. It’s the enamel-like substance that makes up the core and exterior of tusks and teeth. It’s famed for its colour, texture, ease of carving and variety of size and shape.

Where does Ivory Come From?


Yes. But there are also a number of other sources. These include hippos, walruses, seals, narwhals, and the extinct mammoth. Mammoth ivory is legal to purchase and trade, as it does not harm living creatures, however, it is very expensive. It’s also legal to trade other ivory, provided that the ivory comes from a creature that died of natural causes. As poaching ivory-bearing animals is illegal, quantities of legal ivory are very small and the prices are, unsurprisingly, prohibitively expensive.

Is it Legal to Own Ivory?

Yes…with a ‘but’.

It IS legal to own, buy and sell antique ivory. The animal’s already dead, so there’s no issues surrounding poaching, or wondering where the ivory came from. Nobody cares about an elephant who died 150 years ago. You can’t be prosecuted for owning antique ivory (s’long as you didn’t steal it!). I own about a dozen pieces of antique ivory myself. All purchased quite legally from antiques shops and flea-markets, fairs and other such events.

Owning NEW ivory is fraught with ALL KINDS of issues. ‘New’ ivory basically means anything which was harvested, or processed in any way, after the Second World War, and especially, after the 1970s and 80s.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, okay sure. Whatever. But is it LEGAL to own new ivory?

YES. But owning new ivory comes with so many strings attached, you could strum it like a harp.

It IS legal to buy and own modern ivory, but when you see the hassle that goes into it…you might change your mind. Even expert antiques dealers and auctioneers who have been doing this for decades couldn’t tell you how hard it is. There’s more loopholes in this than the curtain wall on a castle. Don’t believe me? Here goes…

It is legal for Alaskan natives to sell ivory (walrus ivory, usually) to non-natives. BUT ONLY AFTER the animal (which was hunted) has been thoroughly used up, FIRST. Killing the walrus just for the ivory and discarding the rest of the animal is illegal.

It’s legal to sell MAMMOTH ivory, because mammoths are already dead, so no live animals are hurt in extracting the ivory. But it’s prohibitively expensive.

It’s legal to sell narwhal ivory. But again, you need paperwork.

It’s legal to sell ‘vintage ivory’ (that is, ivory that’s old, but which is still postwar), so long as you have full documentation.

Ivory, Bone and Plastic

For whatever reason – Perhaps you inherited it – perhaps you found it – perhaps you bought it at a flea-market or antiques shop – you have a piece of ivory.

Or at least, you think you do. But you have no idea if it is. How do you tell? Here is my guide to determining if something is, or is not ivory.

Here, we have a closeup of three different materials. One of them is ivory. Two of them are often mistaken for ivory. What’s the difference??

The items are a page-turner, a paper-folder, and the scales from a straight-razor. They all look roughly the same, but only one is the real McCoy. How do you tell which one of these three materials is ivory? Well, to help you with that, here is my own little guide:


…is a natural product. If it looks absolutely perfect, it ain’t ivory. Even the most perfect ivory will have flaws of some kind. Spots. Inclusions. Lines. Pitting. Stuff like that.
…is like wood. It has a grain that you can either see with your eyes, or feel with your fingernails. If you don’t see or feel some sort of grain – be suspicious!
…grain is never uniform. Like wood-grain, it’s random and goes all over the place. If the ‘grain’ is perfectly spaced out (see the straight razor at the bottom), then it is not ivory. It is plastic with a faux ‘grain’ on top to make it look like ivory.
…is normally very smooth, with minimal pitting and is usually an off-white cream or darker beige colour.
…does NOT have a whole heap of pitting and holes and black spots on it. Black spots and deep, frequent pitting (large enough to catch your fingernail in) means that the item is BONE, NOT IVORY. The black spots are marrow-flecks.
…can vary from piece to piece, depending on age, condition, and of course, the animal it’s taken from.

Beware of the term ‘French Ivory’. This is just a fancy way of saying ‘celluloid’, which itself was also called Xylonite and Parkesine (two early names for what later was called celluloid).

If the above guide doesn’t help, another way of testing for ivory is the ‘hot needle’ test. Heat up a needle until it’s really, really hot. Then stick it into the item which you think is ivory.

If it is ivory – nothing happens. If it isn’t ivory, then the item will melt, smoulder or the needle will sink into the item. Or the item might be bone.

If the item is celluloid, then DON’T TRY THIS!!! Antique celluloid is HIGHLY COMBUSTIBLE and it WILL burst into flames if it’s exposed to high enough heat. having seen what happens firsthand what happens when you set fire to celluloid (I did it as an experiment with a broken fountain pen) – I can assure you – you don’t want antique plastic flaring up and exploding in front of you!

Owning and Looking After Ivory

Owning ivory is legal, provided that it is ANTIQUE IVORY, or, if it’s modern ivory – if you have all the necessary documentation. With antique ivory, you don’t need documentation, so long as you can prove how old it is by some other means (maybe it’s part of a set, maybe it’s part of another antique, etc).

The only exception to this is the United States.

In the EU, Great Britain, and most countries of the former British Empire, it’s perfectly legal to own antique ivory – and you don’t need any supporting paperwork. Antiques dealers can sell it and trade it quite openly from their shops, market-stalls and elsewhere, and the discerning public can buy it, own it, use it and collect it as they wish.

But in America, laws were passed as recently as 2014 which state that ALL IVORY – including antique ivory – MUST come with certificates and paperwork from the relevant government departments stating that this ivory was legally purchased and accessed. There are NO exceptions to this.

The rest of the world doesn’t care – If it’s antique ivory, and it’s OBVIOUSLY antique ivory – then obviously, no animals in recent times died for it – so unless you stole it – it’s legal. This is the case in Britain, Europe, Australia and a number of other countries. But in the United States, all ivory, regardless of origin, provenance and history, must come with government documentation. Unsurprisingly, it’s rubbed a lot of people the wrong way – especially antiques dealers, who have now essentially been branded criminals for things that they purchased quite legally.

If you are in the ‘States, or if you’re going there with ivory – watch out!!

But, for whatever reason – you have ivory. You inherited, or bought it, or found it. Now what do you do to keep it safe?

Ivory should be handled with care. If you touch it often enough, it will eventually turn yellow (like those antique piano-keys), and it can dry out and crack. So keep it away from heat and strong sunlight as much as possible. So long as it’s kept cool, away from heat and strong light, an item made of ivory should last for many, many, many years.

My Ivory Collection

This is my personal collection of ivory, amassed over a period of about five years. It’s comprised of page-turners (the two flat pieces, bottom left), paper-knives (two on bottom right), ink-erasers (inner left and inner right. Spearpoint blades). Letter-opener (top left, next to ink-eraser). Button-hook, hole-punch, crochet-hook and file, and at the top – a ruler made of ivory. All these pieces are at least 100 years old (in some cases at least 150 years old!), and are all in wonderful condition.

Every piece here is ivory – and you can see the subtle differences in shade, finish, and colour. No two pieces are exactly the same. That is because this is a natural product which, like wood – is always a little different from sample to sample. Colour also varies from sample to sample. Compare the two ink-knives – the left one is darker, the right one is lighter.

This is my 13th piece of ivory – another paper-knife/letter-opener (or doctor’s tongue-depressor, as a few have suggested).

Hopefully this guide has been useful and helpful to people who own, or want to own, pieces of antique ivory :)

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Posted by on April 1, 2015 in Antiques


Mad Dogs and Englishmen: Pith Helmets – The Original Sun Hat!

One of the most popular postings I ever wrote for this blog was about hats. It continues to be searched, read, viewed and commented on, much to my disbelief and amazement.

Thanks to everyone who’s visited this blog and likes hats. I like hats too. Hats are neat.

I’m taking this opportunity to write about the fascinating and whimsical story behind one type of hat in particular. A hat which has generally fallen out of favour, ever since the late 20th century, and which has yet to undergo any sort of serious mainstream revival.

I am of course talking about the Pith Helmet.

Boaters, Panamas, Trilbies, Homburgs, Fedoras, flat-caps, panel-caps, Fez-caps, Greek fishing-caps, even the deerstalker hat made famous by Sherlock Holmes, and countless other items of headwear have all survived well into the 21st century. Most men and women would wear them anywhere and everywhere, and think absolutely nothing of it. And yet, the same freedom of movement has somehow never been afforded to the humble pith helmet, which I think is a shame, given its noble history and many excellent qualities.

This post aims to explain the wonders of the Pith Helmet. What makes it such an iconic and fascinating…well…hat…essentially, and why it lasted so long.

What Is a ‘Pith Helmet’?

The Pith Helmet is a hard-shell, high-crowned hat with a wide, sloping brim made of the ‘pith’ (soft heartwood) of the Sola plant. It’s for this reason they’re also called ‘Sola Topees’ or Sola hats. Other names include sun-hats or sun-helmets. Pith helmets are constructed thus: Soft pith from the Sola plant is placed on a mold and glued on, layer after layer, forming the shell of the helmet. The helmets are built up kind of like how you make papier-mache. Once the glue dries and a hard shell has been attained, the helmet is removed from the mold and is swathed in tight-fitting cotton to protect the shell.

Originally, this cotton covering was white, but over time, most pith helmets were stained an earthy sand colour called Khaki. This was originally a form of camouflage in the sandy regions of Africa, India and the Middle East, but soon it became standard on most pith helmets. These days, pith helmets are typically manufactured in two colours – white, and khaki. There is no real distinction between one or the other, except that white pith helmets are used largely for ceremonial roles, and khaki pith helmets are used for more practical roles.

The word ‘Khaki’ comes from the Persian word ‘Khak’, which literally means ‘soil’. Therefore – Khaki-coloured helmets were helmets which were the colour of soil, or dust. Some people in Britain still use the slang-word ‘khak’ to this day, meaning general filth, grit, grime and mess.

What are Pith Helmets Made Of?

Traditionally, pith helmets were constructed of sola pith, although when pith wasn’t available, they were also made of cork. Today, helmets tend to be made out of one or the other, depending on local resources. Pith helmets made in Vietnam (where a lot of pith helmets are made for export) are still made of traditional pith.

What is the Purpose of a Pith Helmet?

OK, they look cool…but…what the hell do they DO??

The Pith Helmet’s design was taken from the German Pickelhaube helmet (Those fancy Prussian ones with the brass spikes on top), and came into being around the mid-1800s. The Pith Helmet was designed for use in hot, dry and humid climates, such as Africa, Asia, the Middle East and India. It has a number of features which make it ideal for these kinds of conditions. Let’s see what they are…

My own pith helmet, made of cork, lined in dark khaki cotton fabric with a neatly folded puggaree around the crown. Leather chin-strap and six riveted ventilation holes. French colonial style.

The pith helmet has a high crown. This keeps the top of the helmet away from your hair and prevents sweat-buildup. The hard shell made of pith means that no matter what happens, it won’t cave in and cause sweat to build up in your hair. The helmet comes with steel-reinforced ventilation holes. The number of vent-holes varies depending on the style of helmet you have. My helmet up above is the French colonial style. These traditionally came with six vent-holes – three on each side, arranged in a triangle. Wind blowing through the vent-holes cool the head down and wick away sweat.

One of the most noticeable characteristics of the pith helmet is the wide, sloping brim. This is designed to keep the sun and rain off your face and neck. The leather belt across the front brim is actually meant to be a chin-strap, stored up there when not in use.

However, one of the most famous characteristics of the pith helmet is that it’s designed to get wet!

Soaking your Helmet

Pith helmets (Well-made ones, anyway), are designed to be soaking wet when they’re used. A good-quality cork, or pith helmet is designed to retain water. On a hot day, dunk the helmet in a bucket of water, or flip the crown upside down and fill it with water and let it soak in for a few hours. Drain off the excess water, shake the helmet to remove the runoff, and then put it on.

Out in the heat of the sun, the water evaporating from the helmet will keep you cool. The helmet’s rigid shape will stop the water getting all over you and the hard shell won’t collapse on top of your head. So long as the helmet is regularly re-hydrated, it’ll remain cool and comforting throughout the day. It was the pith helmet’s ability to act as your own personal cooling-device that made it so popular in hot and humid countries like India, Singapore, Vietnam and elsewhere.

The History of the Pith Helmet

Developed in the mid-1800s, the pith helmet was originally military-wear. It was modeled after the German Pickelhaube helmet and was issued to troops stationed in Africa, the Middle East and Asia from the 1850s up until after the Second World War. Apart from soldiers, they were also issued to police-officers in places like China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaya and Australia.

Helmets were originally white, but the whiteness made the soldiers which wore them a target to the enemy. To make them less conspicuous, they covered them in dust and sand. This stained them a sandy yellow-brown hue which was named ‘Khaki’, after the Persian ‘Khak’ (‘Dirt’). This led to the helmets being manufactured in both white and khaki. The colours of the helmets issued to soldiers varied according to the uniforms they wore and the ranks they held. Badges of rank were placed on the fronts of the helmets.

The pith helmet soon became popular with Western civilians living in hot climates and it was worn by both men and women. Europeans going to South America, Panama, the Caribbean, Africa, or Asia would buy a pith helmet before going. In fact for a time it was believed that if you were going to these places, you NEEDED a pith helmet because the paler Caucasian complexion was too fragile to bear up under such strong, equatorial sunbeams. A large, broad-brimmed helmet to provide defense against the rays was essential!

Pith helmets continued to be popular, and continued to be military-issued, right up until the 1950s. Due to the wide range of locales where they saw service, pith helmets gradually developed into about half a dozen different distinct styles, each one associated with a specific country or organisation.

The Types of Pith Helmets

Over time, the pith helmet developed into about six different distinct styles, each one associated with a specific country or organisation. They were, in no particular order…

Foreign Service Helmet

The Foreign Service Helmet is the quintessential Victorian-era British pith-helmet! It conjures up images of the colonial wars of the 1800s, of Safaris in Africa, of the British Raj, of the film ‘Zulu’, and the big game hunters of old. The Foreign Service Helmet has the highest crown. It also has a protruding, beak-like rim and sloping back. These are designed to keep sun and rain off the face and neck. They were available in both white and Khaki.

French-Style Pith Helmet

To protect them from the heat in such places as French North Africa, French Guiana and French Indochina, the French Army adopted this pith helmet. It’s got a low crown, it’s oval-shaped with a wide, turned-down brim. It has six vent-holes (three on each side) for cooling the head.

USMC Pith Helmet

The United States Marine Corps (USMC) adopted the pith helmet as part of its uniform starting in the early 1900s. At first-glance, it looks just like the French one, but it’s got a much higher crown and more vent-holes. Twelve, instead of six.

Bombay Bowler

Winston Churchill wearing a Bombay Bowler

Named after the Indian city of Bombay, this type of pith helmet was more ‘hat-like’ than other helmets and was designed more for civilian wear than military use, despite this, it still had the same characteristics as all the other helmets – it was lightweight and retained water for use in hot climates. While other helmets were more rounded, the Bombay Bowler has a flatter crown and straighter edges.

Vietnamese Pith Helmet

Worn by the North Vietnamese Army during the Vietnam War, this pith helmet is one of the most distinctive styles ever made. It is the only commonly-accepted version of the pith-helmet which isn’t white or khaki – but green, to go with classic Military Green of army uniforms. It’s also the most ‘bowl-like’ of the helmets, having a uniform dome-like crown and rim.

The Safari Helmet

The more generic ‘safari’ helmet


The last style of pith-helmet is the safari helmet. This varied significantly in size, crown-shape and height, and the number of ventilation holes. It doesn’t conform to any particular style previously mentioned. It most closely resembles the French-style pith helmet, but the positioning and number of the vent-holes does not always match the traditional three on each side, set out in an upright triangle.

These various styles of pith helmets remained common up until the mid-20th century but are now usually worn only for costumes, parade/ceremonial uniforms, or historical reenactments. That said, a well-made pith helmet is still one which will fulfill its original functions and capabilities as orginally intended. The next time you head out into the wilderness with a break-open shotgun and a yen for some big game, perhaps bring one along. If you go camping in the bush, the desert or the outback, one of these might prove useful. If nothing else, it’ll help hold a small amount of water if you turn it upside-down! They’re whimsical, useful, classic, charming and practical.

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Posted by on March 15, 2015 in History of Clothing, Uncategorized


Double-Hinge Writing Slope (ca. 1875)

During the Australia Day Long Weekend (Australia Day is the 26th of January for those who don’t know), I headed up to the country for the annual Fryerstown Antiques Fair. A three-day antiques fair which takes place in the tiny hamlet of Fryerstown, which is virtually in the middle of nowhere. Been going there for a few years, now. And I’ve always found something nice whenever I go.

Last year it was a Singer Puzzle Box. The year before that, it was a clothes valet. This year, it was this:

The Little Black Box

I purchased this rather battered-looking writing-slope for what I consider to be a very good price, considering the fact that it was missing almost everything that made purchasing something like this worthwhile. But I considered it a good purchase because it was a style of writing-slope or writing-box which I did not yet own. And I decided that it would make a good restoration-project.

At any rate, I purchased the box and brought it home. I cleaned the leather with beeswax and scrubbed off all the grime. I opened the box and cleaned out the interior. The box came without inkwells, or key. The owner had no information on it other than that he’d purchased it at auction and kept it at home, half-opened, as a display-piece, until he decided that since he didn’t use it, he may as well just get rid of it for a low price. That’s where I came in!

Restoring the Writing Slope

The box is beautiful and more-or-less structurally sound, but it suffered from a number of issues.

– It had no inkwells.
– It had no key.
– The antique ‘Russia Leather’ covering was dry and filthy.
– The lining of black, textured paper was peeling away, and was too brittle to glue back down (so I removed it).
– The base of the box was structurally unsound. It was starting to crack and part. So I needed to reinforce it.

The first step in restoring the box to full functionality was fixing this whole issue with the inkwells. This was going to be a bloody nightmare. Antique writing-slope inkwells are damn near impossible to find, they’re expensive to buy, and they’re even MORE expensive to import from Europe. And what’s worse – this box needed TWO such inkwells!

Knowing my chances to finding two identical glass antique inkwells that precisely fitted the slots inside the box were very, very slim, I looked for suitable alternatives, and found one in small, 18ml flattop medicine-jars used for ointments, and which had tight-sealing metal lids with foam washers inside to prevent leaks. They fitted ideally into the slots, and were exactly the right height so that the box would always close securely. Wonderful!

To cover up the original brand-name on the bottle-lids, I glued on circles of red velvet. To make the bottles easier to pull out and unscrew for use, I put cut slits in the velvet and threaded some yellow ribbon through to act as little handles.

The two new inkwells in their slots

In case anyone else is restoring a writing-box like this and is struggling to find inkwells – I used 18ml ‘Tiger Balm’ jars. They’re little hexagonal glass jars with flat, brass screw-on lids. They were the perfect size. The closest thing I was likely to get, barring the purchase of actual inkwells.

To be clear, you CAN purchase reproduction glass and brass-topped, screw-down inkwells for writing-slopes. But they’re prohibitively expensive. For me, it would’ve cost at least the price I paid for the box, and more. I wasn’t willing or able to spend that kind of money on it.

After finding appropriate inkwell substitutes, the next step was to reinforce the base of the box. It was originally covered in a simple, paper backing, and this had peeled right off. The wood underneath had also started to split and part company from the rest of the box, to the extent that you could feel the wood moving when you picked up the box.

To fix this, I put on sheets of adhesive foam padding. The foam would be thicker than paper, and last longer than felt (which is what most vintage boxes were covered with, on their bases). The foam bottom would allow the box to be slid around smoothly, and not catch or scratch anything if it was moved around on a table or other smooth surface.

The next step in restoring the box was to put in a new lining.

Re-lining the Interior

The original lining of the box was black, textured paper. It was peeling right off and bubbling up, coming away from the wooden surface of the box. The original glue had long since dried out. Gluing the paper back down was not an option because of how fragile it was. It would simply crumble and crack into dust. It was only the layer of glue that held it together. I found out how weak it was when I tried vacuuming out the dust and it peeled right off.

The original black paper lining. You can see where it’s peeling away and bubbling up

I removed the original black paper and decided to line the box with red velvet. To make it easier, I used thin cardboard to cut out simple templates which I then glued onto sheets of velvet. Doing this means that the velvet can be placed more precisely and more neatly, into the interior of the writing-slope.

After gluing the cardboard templates to the velvet sheeting, I cut the velvet out, tracing around the cardboard backings. Then I glued the card and the velvet into the box, and then simply dropped in the velvet base, without gluing it to the floor of the box (it seemed pointless anyway – it’s not going anywhere!) I know for a fact that writing slopes were lined in velvet, so I felt that this was an entirely appropriate choice for a period-accurate restoration-material. The enormous quantity of velvet fabric which I had, originally came from a shop that sold huge rolls of curtaining-material!

Cleaning the Leather Exterior

Cleaning the exterior on this box was tricky. It’s covered in ‘Russia Leather’, that is to say, leather that’s been treated with oil from the birch tree after the original tanning process. It’s called ‘Russia Leather’ because this method of leather-treatment was developed in Russia. Treating the leather thus made it impervious to insect attack, rot, and also rendered it waterproof. An ideal material with which to cover a wooden box which would be transported all over the place.

But that was 130+ years ago. In that time the leather has become caked in dust and grime and has dried up. To prevent it peeling and cracking, I rubbed and scrubbed the whole surface over with dubbin (standard beeswax polish) to clean and soften the leather. This isn’t an easy or quick process. Dubbin is laid on, rubbed in, then wiped or brushed off and then the whole thing is rubbed over again. This moistens the leather and removes the grime at the same time. But it takes a while! The result, however, is that the leather will continue to endure

Filling out the Box

Having cleaned the box inside and out, having re-lined the interior and having found inkwells for it, my next step was to try and fill out the box with appropriate accessories which might’ve been found inside it during the heyday of its use. This was both easy and not so easy.

Some things are easier to find than others. Notepaper, envelopes and such, are easy to find. So are dip-pens, pencils, pen-holders, ink for the inkwells etc. The harder items to find were things like the ivory utensils that likely comprised part of this box’s equipment when it was new.

All kitted out. Pencil, pen, inkwells, an ivory page-turner and other stuff which isn’t visible

It took considerable searching and luck, but in the end, I did manage to find an authentic Victorian page-turner made of ivory, to put into the box’s front slot. I also included stuff like spare nibs, sealing-wax, a seal, and a bone-folder to finish off the look.

The last thing to do was to find a key for the box. This was essential, as the box would be impossible to carry without a key. After a trip to the local flea-market and considerable testing and measuring, I was able to find a key that operated the lock smoothly and easily.

The key is tied to the box by yellow ribbon, to prevent it being lost

How long did this whole process take?

From the day I bought the box until the day I found the final piece (the key), it was all over and done with, in about two weeks.

Not bad as far as time goes.


Posted by on February 11, 2015 in Antiques


Ivory Ruler for an Antique Writing Slope

Greetings, regular blog-followers and readers.

Sometime back, you may remember a posting I did about my 1862 Toulmin & Gale writing-slope. And what a gorgeous thing it is, too!

Gorgeous, but incomplete. As the photos show, a number of the slots in the organiser-console were all empty.

Since that post I’ve managed to find appropriate, period items to fill out the gaps. Such as a pocket dip-pen, and the crowning glory, an antique ivory ruler.

The ruler was probably originally 12 inches long (1ft), but this one is only 11 inches. Not sure why. Maybe it was broken at one point and ground down to repair it. No idea. Maybe, maybe not. Either way, the end-result looks like this:

The ruler has some writing on it, which says…

It says: “LUND – MAKER 57 Cornhill, London”.

Haven’t been able to find anything out, but it’s definitely old. I love it, despite it flaws :) Just something I wanted to share.


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Posted by on January 28, 2015 in Antiques


Ladies’ Victorian-Era Writing Slope & Crochet Box (Ca. 1880)

The Little Red Box

This unassuming red box was something I picked up from a local flea-market about two weeks ago. I thought it was rather cute, and after a careful examination of it, I decided to buy it. On the outside, it doesn’t look anything special, and its outward appearance certainly doesn’t provide any clues as to what’s inside the box. But when I opened the lid, I just knew I had to have it.

The box with the lid opened

And here we are! With the lid unlocked and folded down, we see that it doubles as a writing-surface, with tabs for holding in blotting-paper. Beyond that is a storage-compartment and inkwell-slot. With…the original inkwell! Whoo-hoo! Beyond that is the leather stationery console…

Top to Bottom: Photograph album. Order-booklet. Pocket calender. Dip-pen. Pencil. Bone-Folder.

…which pops up… …to reveal more stuff on the other side: Here we have even more of the box’s original bits and pieces. I believe most of these to be crochet tools. We have yarn in a variety of colours and various hooks and picks, together with hole-punchers, a file, and a paper-knife or letter-opener. They’re all made of ivory. Between the legs of the pop-up stand is a beautiful, red silk interior, for storing stuff like the needle-case, the pin-cushion and other stuff… The little bundle of sticks up the back are actually tiny, tiny, tiny pencils. I’ve no idea what they’re for. They came with the box. Here’s a closeup of all the cute things inside the box:

Hole-puncher. Hook (button-hook?). Crochet hook. Crochet hook. File and spike.

Itty-bitty pencils. Four dip-pens. Needle-case (on the right). Pin-cushion (or what i think is a pin-cushion) on the left.

I was able to roughly date the box by its contents. Inside were calenders, booklets and photographs, dating between 1891-1899. I took that to meant that the box was manufactured sometime in the 1880s, possibly before then. In roughly 10 years of collecting antique writing instruments and accessories, and roughly 20 years drooling over writing-slopes of various kinds, this is the first slope or box or desk of this kind, that I had ever seen. I was amazed at a number of things. The first was the design. I’d never seen something like this before. And until someone else showed me a finished eBay auction, I thought that it might even be unique. But it does seem to have been an established style in the 1800s. Albeit one that must be pretty rare. In my time, I’ve seen about half-a-dozen different writing-slope designs, but never something like this! The box has no manufacturer’s mark on it anywhere at all. Which I find odd. You’d think something of this quality would come with a mark or label somewhere. And perhaps at one point it did. But I can’t see it anywhere. Restomodding the Box When I purchased this box at the start of the month, I was more-or-less, thrilled by its condition. But there was one problem with the box that needed to be swiftly rectified. And that was the broken storage compartment, which looked like this, when I bought it:

The broken storage compartment. Awww…

The storage-compartment bottom or floor, was originally one long, length of wood, which ran from one end to the other, fitting in place between small, wooden supports. Unfortunately, this was broken at some point in the box’s history. As it was the one piece that held all the other pieces in the storage-compartment together, everything had since gone out of alignment. There was evidence of at least one attempt at a repair, but it obviously didn’t work! So I was determined to try and fix it. If I wanted to, I could easily just cut a piece of wood and slot it back in and reassemble the box as it was originally. But I felt that this created a huge waste of space underneath the storage compartment. So I decided to restomod (restorative-modification, for those who’ve never heard the term) the box. To rebuild the broken floor, as well as incorporate a secret storage compartment underneath it. To do this, I pulled the box apart…

The box in pieces

…then I glued in small, wooden blocks to act as supports… …after that, I cut out two pieces of wood. One to support the inkwell, and the original storage-compartment-inkwell divider, and the other to act as the base for the storage-compartment, and the false-bottom, and lid for the secret compartment, underneath. The finished product looks like this:

Everything back in place. The inkwell is up on its correct level, and the original lid is back in place.

And here we can see the new floor:

Covered in green felt

…and without the inkwell… And here’s what it looks like with everything in place:

Press down on the left and the false bottom pops up. Take it out, and then you can access the space underneath. Then just slot it back in and pop it back down.

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Posted by on January 22, 2015 in Antiques


Travel-Tips for the Vision-Impaired (and probably everyone else)

I decided to write this major departure from my blog’s usual content, kind of out of boredom. And to have a bit of fun, spread the love and share the knowledge and whatever…

Travel is fun. Travel is exciting. Travel is memorable. Travel is a pain in the ass.

Especially when your eyesight is far from perfect. Like mine. Oh thrill of thrills and joy of joys. Whatever…

Here are my tips for visually-impaired people who go travelling, who might want to travel, or normal people who go traveling and might have visually-impaired travelling companions coming along for the ride. Tips on how to get organised, tips on how to cope and tips on how to get around any problems along the way. Also in this guide are more general travel-tips, written by one who has been flying around the world since the age of 5. Anyway, here goes…


Wherever possible – conserve space. Socks inside shoes. Undies inside toiletry bags. Use zip-up clothing-bags to pack your clothes. You can cram more into a smaller space, organise your suitcase a hell of a lot better, and cram in more of those cutesy souvenirs that you buy.Using zip-up clothing bags allows you to store and organise your clothes in ways which wouldn’t be possible without them, maximising the space available to you in your roller-bags and suitcases.

Do not overpack. I made this mistake on a trip to London. Huge pain in the ass. Going somewhere cold in winter? Bring ONE coat. Make it a decent one. Forget about scarves and gloves. It ain’t that cold. You’ll be walking around or driving or riding most of the time anyway. Unless you’re doing what my brother did. He went to Russia in winter, and damn near died of hypothermia. If possible, buy what you need when you’re over there. Don’t bring socks and undies for every day of the week – you won’t need them. Wash them, dry them, use them again. Bring one or two spares, just in case.

Keep all your liquids in a separate bag. It’ll save time having to dig them out later at the security checkpoint.

Do Not Bring Books! My dad always brings books when he flies. God knows why. You only read them when you fly. And they take up valuable space in the meantime. And they’re heavy. If you must – then bring a small book. Or a book that will help you – like a guidebook or translator or something. Chances are you won’t read them on the plane anyway – that’s what the in-flight entertainment system is for.

Compartmentalise Your Packing. If you’re visually impaired and you can’t remember where the hell anything is inside your bag. If you can’t remember or even worse, can’t see, then one simple way around it is to pack everything in compartments. You can use those zip-shut packing bags, or for other more important stuff (house-keys, medicines etc), you could use those plastic snap-lid takeaway boxes. You can stick things the tops (colourful stickers, velcro-dots etc) to help you remember what items are in which box. And it makes conserving space inside your suitcase a damn lot easier!

The Airport

Get there with PLENTY of time to spare. At least two or three hours. Sometimes this is mandatory. And if it is, add another hour or two on top of that.

If you’re visually-impaired like I am, you’ll know how much planning you have to do when you go to a place you’re not familiar with. Especially when you can’t read the damn signs which are stuck twelve feet up in the sky. If you have a monocular – use it. If people stare – stuff ’em. Let them stare. You don’t care and neither do I.

It’s better to get there really early and then spend your time eating, shopping and pissing, rather than panicking and sprinting around the airport like a recreation of the start of “Home Alone: Lost in New York”.

Take your time and don’t rush. It’s your holiday. Don’t spoil it by sprinting through the airport. Take your time to find out where important things are – like the chocolate shop. Or the toilet. Or the gate and lounge.

Tie Something Big, Ugly and Colourful to your Suitcase-Handles. This is what I do when I go on a trip. Some flashy bright rope. A bright red or multicoloured plastic bag. A soft squishy cuddle-toy. Tie something that’s easily recognisable, easily spotted and which nobody else would ever dare admit to owning, to your suitcase handles. This way, you’ll always be able to find your suitcase on the carousels when it’s being offloaded from the airplane. Or if you can’t find it and someone asks you what it looks like -you can just tell them that it’s the one with the Polka-Dotted Piggy Toy tied to the handle. This is especially useful in this day and age, when all your luggage can look frustratingly similar to everyone else’s luggage.

Navigation, Orientation, and Mobility

On holiday, your camera is your best friend. And not just for the selfies. Use your camera to…

– Take a photo of your hotel.
– Take a photo of the nearest intersection/street.
– Take a photo of the map that you’ll use (once you’ve annotated it).
– Take a photo of any nearby landmarks.

Whenever I travel – London, Paris, Shanghai, Peking, New York, San Francisco, Toronto…I always take a photograph of the map which I intend to use when I’m in town. Why? Because a photograph on your camera will last a hell of a lot longer than a paper map that you keep folding, unfolding, opening, closing, writing on and marking. Eventually it’ll rip, tear, fall apart, get stuff spilled on it, and you’re stuffed. And they always come with those stupid vouchers and advertisements which make the map twice as large as it should be. Paper maps are hard to read, and they take up valuable space in your everyday-carry bag. They’re also a pain in the ass to fold! On a camera (or camera-phone), you don’t have to worry about all that garbage, and you can enlarge the image to crazy-huge proportions to read EVERYTHING!! Building-names. Street-names. Grid-references. It’s so much easier!

On top of that…

– Use your camera to take a picture of the info-page on your passport. Just in case. This way, you can keep your passport safe in the hotel, and carry a picture of it around with you, if it’s necessary.
– If you’re using the subway and there’s a map at the station of the local area, photograph that, too. And use it as a guide while you’re in the neighbourhood.
– ALWAYS charge your camera. At least every second day. Just in case. Or carry spare batteries if you can.
– OMG!!! Your friends saw something REALLY COOL!!…across the river…on the other side of the road…on the fourth storey of a building…and…You can’t. Oh jeez. Use your camera to zoom in on whatever it is they’re drooling over, take a picture of it, and then enlarge the picture with your camera’s features to see what all the fuss is about!

Carry a Torch/Flashlight, and plenty of spare batteries. If you’re visually impaired, what’s enough bright for others is not enough bright for you, and sometimes a white cane is not the best solution. They’re bulky, and they can mark you out as a target. Not a safe thing if you’re in an unfamiliar city. If possible, carry a torch instead. Whenever I go out at night, I carry a super-powerful military-grade flashlight in my bag.

My weapon of choice is the LED Lenser P6. It takes two AA batteries – so they’re easy to find, easy to buy, easy to load. It’s VERY bright. It’s small, it’s portable, it has a wide beam and a focus-beam. And it’s solid as a brick. If you drop it, it won’t break. I also carry a AAA-battery LED Lenser P2 pocket light, just in case. If I need MORE LIGHT I also have a LED Lenser P7!

Don’t be embarrassed to whip out your torch and flash it around at night if you’re walking home from a night of tourism. Better that you should look like a weirdo and know where you’re going, than try and fit in with the crowd and walk into a parked motorcycle in a pitch-black street (that happened to me once).

Torches are handy for looking out for poles, steps, curbs and drunken hobos at night. But they’re also great for reading signs, and for looking at things in poorly-illuminated restaurants and shops. Antiquing, bargain-hunting and souvenir-shopping just got a whole lot easier.

Carry a whistle. If you get lost or separated from your group in a crowd, shouting isn’t always going to get their attention. Especially if it’s a noisy and crowded place like a market or street-carnival or parade. Or if you’re really short and you can get swallowed up by all the people around you.

I carry around an old-style dual-chamber Metropolitan general service whistle, which was a souvenir of my first trip to London.

Why? Four reasons.

1. It’s very tough. It’s solid brass. It won’t crack or shatter like those plastic whistles we have now.
2. It’s very small. About the size of a USB stick.
3. It has a unique sound. It doesn’t sound anything like your run-of-the-mill referee whistle that you see these days – which is good – because you don’t want your emergency whistle to be mistaken for anything other than what it’s meant to be. Otherwise it’ll be like a fire-truck playing Greensleeves.
4. It’s extremely loud! Which is what you want. Don’t forget, these whistles were designed for police so that they could call for help in an emergency. So they’re designed to be heard for blocks in every direction.

Carry a Magnifying Glass.  Science shows that straining your eyes does not permanently damage them. But it does make them hurt and it makes you sleepy. And you don’t wanna be sleepy on your holiday. Carry a pocket magnifying glass with you when you go out on holiday. Keep it in your pocket. Use it to read menus, maps and other such things.

When I was in London I kept a copy of the Tube map in my pocket. Great reference guide (the Tube is very easy to use), but the writing is microscopic! I carry a pocket magifying glass or ‘quizzing-glass’ in my pocket whenever I go out, now. It’s 5x magnification, which is generally good enough for most applications.

If you need something stronger, then seek out a jewellery-supplies shop, or go on eBay and look up loupes (prounced ‘loop’). A loupe is a high-power magnifier (starting generally, at 10x and going up as high as 50 or 60x). This is not only great for small font, but also looking at stuff like hallmarks and makers’ marks…that’s what they were designed for, anyway!!

Write down addresses. You wanna go somewhere. A shop. A street. A museum. Gallery. Restaurant…in Rome, Paris, Germany, or some other place where people are unlikely to speak fluent English. Oh crap. Now what?? Don’t panic. Simply look up the address of the place online. Copy it down exactly. Then give it to the taxi-driver when you hop in the car.

Carry a Compass. The iPhone comes with a compass-feature set into it. But if your portable telephone of choice does not have one (for whatever reason), then a simple compass is sometimes a good thing to carry around. Especially if you’re hopeless at reading maps or have no concept of the motions of the sun.

Surviving your Trip

Research public holidays. I can’t stress this enough. There is nothing more annoying than flying halfway around the world to your dream destination to find out on your first day that everything is locked up tighter than the recipe for Colonel Sanders’ Finger-Lickin’ Chicken recipe, and all because it’s National Guacamole Appreciation Week.

Research all the places you wanna go, way ahead of time. It’s a certified pain in the ass trying to find out stuff about the hotspots you wanna go to when you’re actually there. Don’t do it. Find out when they’re open, how to get there and what to expect when you are there.

Learn at least a few basic phrases. Where’s the toilet? How much is *whatever*. Hello. Goodbye. Good morning. Good night. How much for a pound of weed? In some countries, you may not have to. I went to the Netherlands and spoke English all the time. But in some countries you won’t be so lucky.

Watch out for pickpockets. Pickpockets are like rivers. They move fast, and they can get surprisingly deep when you’re not looking. And they are everywhere. Don’t be a chump and keep your wallet in an outside pocket or anywhere else easily accessible by someone other than yourself. Keep it inside your jacket or coat. Or in the hardest part of your bag to open.

“What about my money!? There’s a dancing Buddha statue which I MUST BUY!!”

Keep your money (but only small amounts) in your pockets. Preferably scattered about your person so that you don’t lose everything all at once if a pickpocket does decide to take you for a ride.

Use your Impairment to your Advantage. You have a visual disability. EMBRACE IT! Disabled discounts. Pensioner concessions. Pity discounts. Whatever you can get out of these suckers, milk ’em for every Baht, Yen, Pound, Dollar, Yuan and Euro you can! I snagged discount seats in one of the best rows in a West End London theater to watch Les Miserables simply by spilling the beans about me being a poor blind beggar-boy who was here on holiday. OK I exaggerate a bit…but we did get those seats. See? It can be beneficial for your friends, too. Remember, sighted people. Your vision-impaired travel-companion can open doors that you can’t.

Never Leave Your Bags Unattended. And not just at airports, either! Pickpockets and bag-snatchers are crafty little bastards. Keep your valuables in hard-to-reach places. Inside pockets of coats, or zipped-up areas inside your bag. Only store non-valuable stuff in the outside compartments or pockets of your bag or coat. Cheap sunglasses. Your pocket umbrella. Maps. Valuable stuff like cameras, phones, wallets and cards should be kept in places which only you can reach. Or which pickpockets will have much greater trouble accessing.

Never keep your stuff in your trouser pockets. Not only is it easy to spot, and retrieve, it’s easier to lose stuff that way. If at all possible, keep your valuables in the safebox in your hotel room and only take the bare necessities with you when you go out.

Carry cards from your hotel. This will make it easier for you to find your way home, especially if you’re in a place that doesn’t speak English.

Packing Souvenirs

One of the great joys of travelling is buying souvenirs and bringing them home to adorn your humble abode, and share them with friends, and the fascinating stories that come with them. But one of the biggest nightmares of travelling is getting your souvenirs HOME!!!! Yurgh!! Now what??

If you were smart to begin with, you packed light, and therefore, your suitcase should still have sufficient space for souvenirs. But if you’re struggling, here’s a few tips, written by one who has brought home countless fragile, breakable, rare and antique treasures from trips abroad.

Remove the Packaging! A surprising amount of space is taken up, and wasted, by packaging. Cardboard boxes, plastic wrap, vacuum-sealed containers. Rip all that crap off! Not only does it make the item smaller and more manageable, it also makes the item…lighter! Very important in this age of luggage-weight restrictions.

Pack Your Souvenirs in your Clothes. If the item you’re bringing home is fragile, pack it CAREFULLY inside your clothes in your suitcase. But do not over-pad the item. You want it to be safe and shock-proof. You do NOT want the item to be CRUSHED when you close the suitcase!

Maximise Space! So you brought home that Chinese teacup set from Shanghai. Or that Royal Doulton from the Buckingham Palace souvenir shop (yes, Buckingham Palace has a souvenir shop. Go and check it out if you don’t believe me). But if you put that in your suitcase, then you can’t fit in that hardcover edition of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare that you got during your saunter through Stratford-Upon-Avon. Oh dear…

If the souvenirs are hollow (teapots, mugs, bells etc), then stuff your clothes inside! Singlets, tops, T-shirts, socks, shirts. Not only does it conserve space, it protects the item from being crushed and broken!

Get a Box from the Hotel. Hotels are constantly getting deliveries. Food. Toiletries. Fresh linens. Stationery. The list goes on. Ask at the front desk or ask the concierge if there are any old cardboard boxes lying around anywhere, maybe back in storage in the offices. Any old cardboard boxes, and some duct-tape and scissors. Take whatever boxes they give you, cut them to the right size, fold them and pack them around the object you have, and then tape it together. This should give you at least some sort of packaging to carry stuff home in.

Pull It Apart! If you can, pull your souvenir apart into its component pieces. This will make it easier to pack, and you can spread the weight across your luggage to get it on the plane more easily. Just make sure you remember how to put it back together again! (Don’t remember how to do that? Use your camera to take pictures to help you).

Plan in Advance! If you’re anything like my family, you have a bad habit of going overseas, and bringing back massive, heavy, unwieldy souvenirs! Everything from Venetian theater-masks, to posters, to guitars, to replica Japanese samurai swords, Balinese carvings that weigh twenty pounds, sewing machines that weigh 30 pounds, or an extremely rare Victorian-era writing slope loaded with nick-nacks.

If you KNOW that this is likely, then plan for it! One way to do this is to pack a crushable, foldable or otherwise collapsible ‘souvenirs bag’ into your suitcase. I suggest a duffel-bag or carry-all made of tough canvas, with zippers, carry-handles and shoulder-straps (that’s what I use, anyway). It’s easily packed, easily opened, doesn’t weigh much, is tough, can hold lots of stuff, and is relatively easy to carry.

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Posted by on January 7, 2015 in Uncategorized


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