Jon Crispin's Notebook

Willard Suitcase #6

Posted in History, Willard Suitcases by joncrispin on 23/10/2011

This suitcase belonged to Maude K.  There seems to be some question as to her surname; on some of the tags it is spelled differently.

Three of her cases are in the collection and I shot all three but for brevity I am only posting this one.

I am starting to edit a bit more tightly for these posts since some of the cases contain a considerable amount of interesting objects.

Maude was clearly involved in crafts of some sort.

Her tools and materials are beautiful.  I would love to know if there is any record of what she produced with them.  And the question again arises as to whether or not she was able to access her case during her time at Willard.

There is definitely more information about her available through the archives, and once I have finished photographing the cases I’ll make every effort to find out more about her.

This score pad indicates that at one time she probably played bridge.  The design of these objects knocks me out.

There was still glycerine in this bottle.

The inks were mostly dried out as the corks in the tops had deteriorated almost completely.

I would be glad to know if anyone recognizes what these items could have been used for.

I liked these tweezers, and believe that the white bit at the top is ivory.

I think this glass paper-weight came from the “World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893” in Chicago.  /  Maude’s cases were really interesting.  I hope to be back in Albany sometime this week to do some more work.  For those of you seeing this for the first time, here is a link to my Kickstarter project.  Thanks, Jon

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66 Responses

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  1. kimananda said, on 28/10/2011 at 3:48 pm

    What a great project this is, such an intimate glimpse of the individuals who owned the suitcases.

  2. jrbobikJohn Bobik said, on 28/10/2011 at 4:10 pm

    Those are leather working tools (looks like she embossed her leather) and the tweezer looking item is actually a compass for making circles.

    • dan sutch said, on 02/11/2011 at 9:26 pm

      I don’t think it’s a compass; looks more like a marking device for scribing parallel lines a set distance apart.

    • VeganDragan said, on 02/11/2011 at 10:01 pm

      Yup. That’s exactly what they are. And there are the laces for making pouches and purses.

    • Julian de Wette said, on 02/11/2011 at 11:44 pm

      The ‘tweezer looking item’ is a pair of dividers used for measurement and not a compass. A compass has a sharp point and a pencil for describing a circle. Yes — they are leather working tools.

      • Ski Sullivan said, on 03/11/2011 at 11:29 am

        Yes Julian, I was going to point that out as well. Nice work.

    • L Jhanson said, on 04/11/2011 at 8:28 pm

      Actually a pair of dividers, somewhat like a compass, but for stepping off and marking equal spaces.

  3. Richelle Fatheree said, on 28/10/2011 at 4:21 pm

    Yes, I’m pretty sure it’s leathercrafting http://www.craftart.info/Leathercraft/Leathercraft-Tools/

  4. Bronwyn said, on 28/10/2011 at 4:29 pm

    These tools look like leather-working tools. The tweezers you mention looks like a compass for making circles.

  5. hbaumann (@hbaumann) said, on 28/10/2011 at 4:39 pm

    I’m fairly certain the tools are for woodcut block printing.

    More modern block printing is cut into linoleum or a fast carving rubbery block that doesn’t last as long. The tools look in ways similar but different because wood would be a different consistency to cut designs into.

    Hammers, chisels, embossing stylus (the ones with the rounded ends.) It looks like you might have a block for cutting on in that set too “Hardest Sharpest Cutting Material.”

    They might have been trying to copy the design on the paperweight. I’m not certain where the soldering tools fall into this but at least something to get you started. I would contact someone who spends a lot of time in this field that could tell you more.

  6. Harry Secker said, on 28/10/2011 at 5:14 pm

    They look like tools for making leather goods like belts, wallets and such. The metal rods are stamps for embossing designs. There some that look like punches, and a lot of lacing for sewing pieces together and creating decorative edging. I also see there are some leather care produvcts.

  7. Alison Gothard said, on 28/10/2011 at 5:45 pm

    Those aren’t tweezers, those are calipers. They are for measuring things. I would guess she did some sort of wood carving, and used the calipers to measure the designs for uniformity.

    • LeeAnn Garton said, on 02/11/2011 at 8:12 pm

      Or for doing the leather design precisely.

      • LeeAnn Garton said, on 02/11/2011 at 8:13 pm

        The inks were for dying the leather.

    • Deborah Darsie said, on 01/12/2011 at 2:52 pm

      The tweezer-llike item is a caliper.
      I was taught that if you are crafting something that needs a number of identically measured (width, circumference, etc.) for cutting a caliper was one of the more precise hand tools to use to score the guidelines with.

      The points of the caliper are very fine so the mark will be of a consistent width along each score. Pens & Pencils often vary as their points become worn. The material of the caliper is much more durable than lead or the pen tips of that era.

  8. Mark Putman said, on 28/10/2011 at 8:27 pm

    Amazing collection of things. I’m no expert but I think the things are related to etching.
    I’ve now surfed your website and blog from the kickstarter site. (Ironically I was sent the link from a friend named Willard.) Your sense of perspective and care with the objects in the cases is quite amazing.
    I’m glad to see you have exceeded your expectations for money on kickstarter.

  9. faridafleming said, on 29/10/2011 at 12:22 am

    I talked with my father about your question, Jon. He’s an artist and a bit of a historical buff. He looked at the tools and here is his reply:

    ‘I would suspect the tools, a multitude of a species of fine cutting and gouging tools, coupled with inks and glue and binding twine could well suggest woodcut work or engraving. From the1980 centenial Bulletin : ‘Until photo-engraving, drawing for reproduction was a dodgy business, relying on the skill and sobriety of the engraver as he painstakingly pared away with his engraving tools at the wood block, scooping out the white areas and leaving the black areas standing to receive the ink. Admirers of Tennial’s style in illustrating Alice would be better to pay homage to his engraver. Now (our artists) no longer needed to limp in this fashion, photo-engraving gave them dancing shoes. Now they could draw with pen or brush and have their lines photographically enlarged or reduced onto a sensitised zinc plate and the whites eaten away by acids.’

    Incidentaly the rusty item with a white bit at the top is not a set of tweezers but a scale measuring
    instrument. I still have my father’s. The widening or closure of the points is controlled by the threaded wheel on the central horizontal shaft. One can for example adjust it till the points correspond with the extremities of a feature on a map, then transfer the instrument to the scale printed at the bottom of the map and this gives you the actual length of that feature. Or you can adjust it to say one mile on the scale then swivel the points along a winding road and work out distance travelled.

    Oh and the silver instrument two to the left of the scale measurer I also have. It is normally a form of screw driver for fine (e.g. watchmakers) work. The two index fingers of the right hand are placed either side of the silver shaft with the thumb pressed down on the top of the onion bulge. The top part shown in the photo is a knurled rotatable sleeve terminating in the screwdriver blade. The blade is mated with the slot in the screw and held in place by fingers of the one hand and turned via the rotatable sleeve by the fingers of the other.’

    Regards,
    Farida

  10. Kilian Metcalf said, on 31/10/2011 at 10:09 pm

    So glad I learned of your blog through Kickstarter. I hope you make a book out of your photographs so I can buy one for myself and more copies for gifts for family/friends. I think the “tweezers” are actually calipers, too, used for measuring. I’m a registered nurse, and we use a similar tool for measuring the spaces between various heart activities as captured on EKG strips. The screw in the middle would keep the two sides from shifting.

  11. nathanbarlow said, on 01/11/2011 at 5:54 pm

    the “carborundium” is a wetstone… used for sharpening blades of her knives

  12. Brittany said, on 01/11/2011 at 8:54 pm

    I’d say leather working tools also. My husband is a leather worker and he has all of those tools in his kits. From the glue, solder and inks, she may have made leather books or journals. She may have used the solder on metal closures and inks to stamp her mark on the inside or to dye the leather different colors.

    I used to work at a building that was once an assylum in the 1800′s (in Missouri). Many nurses, groundskeepers, cooks, maids, etc rented rooms in the attic of the building. I don’t know if you have any information on this woman but if she wasn’t a patient, she may have worked at the assylum and worked her craft to make more money on the side. Who knows!

  13. Paul C. said, on 02/11/2011 at 1:47 am

    i will disagree with other comments about the ‘tweezers’ being calipers for measuring – they are draftsman’s compasses, used for drawing or scribing circles. Note the white handle (bone?) which is round to allow you to spin it in your fingers to go round the circle.

    I see what appears to be another similar compass to the left of the carburundum box – many times these would have a way of either clamping a pencil lead or as a dip ink pen – there would be something like a pair of adjustable points clamped together, the space between acting as a resevoir for ink like a fountain pen nib, adjusting the gap varies the width of pen line. Because an ink point like this is particular about the angle to the paper, sometimes the bottom of a compass like this would have an elbow joint allowing the pen part to point straight down to the paper even at wide angles for large circles. One of that sort is clearly visible below the bridge scoring pad. .

    Many leatherworking tools here as observed, also several spools of leather lace. One might make a coin purse or a moccasin by cutting out a leather shape, then punching holes along the edge and sewing adjacent pieces together with lace through the holes, as leather craft kits are pre-made today.

    Much leather tooling is done by drawing outlines of shapes on the leather surface, then cutting along the line and either hammering or burnishing one side of the line leaving the other raised. I note several cutting and burnishing tools, which are quite like (and may have actually been) instruments for engraving printing plates.

    Violet ink would also be a logical color choice for such drawing as stray marks would be less likely to show on leather after the tooling was done than common ink colors like indigo, black and brown. The color would be based on methyl violet, commonly used for printing and textile dyeing, it could have also been used as a leather dye.

    Note that ‘rim cement’ is for adhering bicycle tires to a rim in early days, but this may not indicate the actual use; rim cement was usually mastic, a glue made of mastic tree resin and shellac, and would be a common source for glue which could very well be used in leather crafts – a shoemaker would more likely use a hide glue which requires heating, so this would be a ‘cold’ glue convenient for craft use.

    Liquid cold solder is a kind of metal cement.

    The really curious item is the dumbbell shaped instrument on top of the emery paper; I believe this to be an extension added to a compass to allow drawing much bigger circles; the hole visible on one end would be for inserting part of a compass, or a place for a set screw. This is a little uncertain but such extensions were often included with a compass set but ignored by most people.

    The glass paperweight I suspect was used as a burnishing tool, suggested by the pattern of wear along the edges, and the fact that the front face shows dirt but this is worn away along the edges and corners. Such a tool would be very useful to anyone doing leather tooling.

    • joncrispin said, on 02/11/2011 at 6:44 am

      Paul, thank you so much for taking the time to respond to this post. I love the way you write. What you are saying makes a ton of sense. I have recently found out the the owners of these suitcases almost certainly had access to their things when they were at Willard, so I can assume that she practiced her craft during her stay. Thanks again for your interest and expertise. Jon

      • Stacy Fevinger said, on 02/11/2011 at 11:42 am

        I also observe many of these instruments as printmaking tools, more appropriate to working on copper or other metal etching plates than leather. Specifically, in the photo with the scorecard, the bottom two instruments with wooden handles are both burnishing tools for use in acid or drypoint etching. The top tool in that photo is a diamond scraper tool also used in the burnishing etching plates.

        Likewise, I agree with Paul C. regarding the “tweezers” being a compass. There appears to be another compass in the photo showing the carborundum box, directly below the box the strange metal piece with a hole in is is a compass tool for drawing large circles. a compass of this sort consists of 3 sections, a pointed piece to mark ones spot on the page, a drawing tool that fits into the piece shown, and a bar that connects the two. In the sixth picture of your post I see a number pf pieces that could possibly be a part of this set. Personally, I have used compasses as etching needles for years, so this person may have been using them for their various sharp parts rather than or in addition to their intended purpose.

        Carborundum is used in lithography, and the reddish sticks shown…are they wooden? they are the shape of lithography crayons, which may have degraded to look like this with time. Or perhaps they are something else entirely.

        All of the tools with the larger wooden handles look like woodcutting or engraving tools.

        Cool project!

    • Kilian Metcalf said, on 02/11/2011 at 11:25 am

      You convinced me about the compass. Our EKG calipers also have handles that allow us to swing from one point on the EKG to the next to see if the heartbeats “march out,” that is if they are regular. Looks as if it’s a case of an older tool originally intended for one use being adapted for another, newer application. I suspect the draftsman’s compass could also be used to compare measurements on a pattern to make sure they match on another place of the pattern. The screw in the middle would prevent the points of the compass from slipping during use, so the distance between the points remains the same.

  14. L.S. Stuhler said, on 02/11/2011 at 10:23 am

    Hi Jon, I have posted your links to my “links” page and you have received quite a few hits (I can’t seem to find Suitcase 2). I was wondering if you had been able to find any really old suitcases pre 1890? I would love to know what the paupers brought with them if anything. Sad time in our nation’s history. Thanks so much for all your hard work! Sincerely, Lin

  15. Diane R. Johnson said, on 02/11/2011 at 12:49 pm

    I used calipers in my early days as a book designer. You could set them to the width of one space and then reliably reproduce that distance in an other location. A compass would have one end as a sharp pin around which you would swing the other side which could be a blade or a drawing edge of some kind.

    My first guess was that these items were used for leather bookbinding. That would explain the cutting, measuring and shaping instruments as well as the ink. But that theory didn’t explain the solder. Perhaps more than one craft is represented. Or some hybrid unique to this artist – like leather with metal insets? Or metal with leather attachments?

  16. Gabi said, on 02/11/2011 at 2:14 pm

    I agree with Stacy, I do plenty of etching in copper and soft pine and those tools look exactly the same as ones I would use today.

    The ink would have been used to make prints with the carved metal or wood and the glycerine would have been used to clean things.

  17. heather em said, on 02/11/2011 at 8:07 pm

    (aw, i was thinking maybe stained glass, but it appears i was wrong! kudos to everyone above with their extensive and collective knowledge!)
    And ‘wow’ on this entire project. What a beautiful, human undertaking. i love to feel the spirit of these lost people come alive through these objects and memories. It’s like deconstructing a painting of a life, with layer over layer over layer. Thank you so much for sharing, and good luck!

  18. The Governor said, on 02/11/2011 at 8:53 pm

    she was into old fashion forgery…

  19. Rainbow said, on 02/11/2011 at 9:05 pm

    the carborundum corporation is still in business, now owned by saint-gobain abrasives, inc, of worcester, mass. you can probably get in touch with them to find out exactly what product “no. 183″ might have been. http://www.carborundumabrasives.com/

  20. melee said, on 02/11/2011 at 9:56 pm

    These do look like leather tooling equipment. Especially with the glycerin, which would be used in some areas of fine tooling to soften the leather for better impression.

  21. Tanya said, on 02/11/2011 at 9:57 pm

    Do you think maybe she worked with leather?

  22. Winter said, on 02/11/2011 at 10:33 pm

    The small rectangular blocks, are they wood? I make hand carved pens and pencils. Those blocks look like pen “blanks”. Many of these tools could have been used for the purpose of making pens. The adhesives would be used to cement the pen nibs inside of the wood handle.

  23. Myrna Rowe Uhlig said, on 02/11/2011 at 10:36 pm

    What a fabulous find! And a very interesting project — I’ll have to come back later to read/view more.

    Yes, definitely leatherworking tools, and leather lacing, as well. The wooden stick things with the channels cut into the ends are for burnishing wax into the leather lacing to make stitching easier and stronger. At least some of the hole punches are for leather. Some of the embossing tools are likely for paper or copper — I like the idea of her making leather-bound books. It all fits.

    I recently noticed an old, closed-up Greyhound building in downtown Portland and did a search online for information about it. Someone took pictures of the interior through a gap in a door. There are old trunks littering the floor. Can’t help wishing I could have a peek inside them!

  24. Leah Cabral said, on 02/11/2011 at 11:24 pm

    I love seeing things from the past. It makes me wonder how they lived their day to day life. This is an amazing project.

  25. Olowo said, on 03/11/2011 at 1:00 am

    The tweezers you mentioned in the 2nd to the last picture is actually a dividing compass. I just read the article on you on npr, love the work you are doing

  26. Corky Newman said, on 03/11/2011 at 1:21 am

    An amazing project. All of the comments are so respectful of Maude also. 

    My background is 30 years having taught Art in high school, many years of crafts, university degree major oil painting, minor drawing with courses in etching,lithography, sculpture, multi-media – you name it!

    Over time, many artists (me too!) collect a wide selection of items which can ‘make marks’. So we might be creating a drawing, but use pastels, pencils, inks, the wooden end of brushes – anything to create a mark!

    I agree there are tools which could be used for various printmaking in your photos. However, to actually create prints, so many other materials are needed, I doubt she would have made prints. For example with metal plates, various acids are used – dangerous at the best of times.

    Closely examining the contents shows pieces of leather, lanyard (heavy plastic ‘thread’) to whipstitch the edges of items for both closure & decoration which was quite  popular for many decades. 

    Maude probably punched holes first, applied a glue to seal a back & front piece, then used the plastic thread around the edges.
     
    The various tools to make marks, do originate with various other arts. However, they are excellent for making marks on leather. I believe the presence of the wood & metal mallets prove she would hit the tools onto the leather. The heavy wood mallet could help make a deeper mark. The lighter metal mallets for more shallow marks.

    While we see mainly violet ink, she could have run out of other colours. Or her personal style could have been to only use violet. The carborundum as someone mentioned is a whetstone – going through leather will dull the tools’ edges and sharpening them would be imperative.

    If her decorative style was to be quite precise, the calipers would be very helpful for measuring. The thumbtacks would help to hold her leather pieces in place as they were being decorated. I agree the glass could be used for burnishing as well as the wooden handles (on what looks like the Lino cutting tools on the right side of the photos).

    At first, I thought the brown ‘sticks’ could be art drawing sticks (conte crayons). I didn’t think they were for lithography as those are usually a black grease/wax type. Looking closely at the photo they appear to be wood? If so, this would fit with leather working – to be stamped in the surface and maybe even to transfer ink to the leather. Many would be needed as they would be difficult to reshape after the edges wore down.

    The glycerine can be used for various reasons in art, including to extend the drying time of watercolor paints – perhaps Maude used the glycerine with the inks to prevent them from drying out. As you noted, there was still glycerine in the bottle!

    As for the liquid cold solder – no soldering gun is needed with this. There are many uses for this including repairing broken metal. Do any of her metal tools appear to have broken & then repaired? It can also be used to make small items including in a mold. Wondering if the glass is ‘open’ in the back? If yes, she could have created duplicates of that etched in design and then attached that to her creations. Perhaps she fashioned little closures such as toggles if she made wallets or coin purses.

    As for the bridge score pad, she may have been a bridge player. But found among these art materials I’m guessing she used that for a different purpose – much as I’ve done myself with graph type paper – as a grid to draw out her designs for her next project. The paper is similar in size to the leather pieces, so the paper would be ideal to use as a guide!

    I’m intrigued by the small flat box by the suitcase handle – I’m unable to make out what it says. And I’m wondering if the spool of gold thread is metallic? If yes, I can see her using to attach a toggle with decorative thread to the wallet or coin purse.

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you find something created by Maude in a suitcase of someone who might have been her friend! That would be so touching – sad, but great to see her art.

    Thank you for helping to bring Maude back to life through her art materials! I look forward to seeing more of her life!

  27. Jen Maidenberg said, on 03/11/2011 at 3:35 am

    I am in love with your work and this blog already…and I have only just begun. So glad to have found the NPR article link and my way here. Beautiful, haunting photographs. Thank you.

  28. Corky Newman said, on 03/11/2011 at 3:51 am

    I tool a chance & googled a bit: I thought I could make out a name on some of the flat metal tools – c s osborn newark – and this company is listed as part of this museum:

    http://www.davistownmuseum.org/bioOsborne.html

    The Osborne company made leather working tools among other things! In our day we forget how important leather working had been at one time, for example for saddles & other gear for horses.

    Charles Samuel Osborne & Co.
    Newark, New Jersey
    circa 1826-1992-

    Tool Types

    Augers, Dividers, Hammers, Leather Tools, Levels, other…
    Osborne succeeded…..In 1906, the company moved from Newark to Harrison, NJ, where it’s still run by the Osborne family…..and a leather cutting gauge, patented 1 August 1876, repatented 17 July 1877. In 1960, they acquired Mound Tool Co.

    There are some illustrations of some of their tools below the text!

    I wonder if some of Maude’s tools were made prior to 1906! A photograph of the tools all laid out so we can see the the handles and the working ends would be so wonderful!

    I visited the leather craft site from one of the earlier posters. It also supports the idea of leather craft. Since Maude did not have the molds in her case & maybe not in her day, she could have made her own designs with the cold solder to eventually tap onto the leather.

    I also visited the genealogy blog. It is heart breaking to think of Maude and all those other ill people who died there and lie under those anonymous numbers. Thank you again for your efforts.

  29. Colorcrayons said, on 03/11/2011 at 8:08 am

    Two items that seem to have not been identified yet are two hole punches above the thumb tacks in the third picture from the bottom.

    This is also indicative of leather tooling. I agree that many items have cross uses for engraving and leather work, but predominantly the tools displayed are mostly for tooling leather. I have done a fair amount of leather tooling myself and have made several saddles for my girlfriend tooling leather with the cross potential tool tips seen in the pics. The stitching leather convinces me this is likely geared towards leather craft.

    They are not only good for engraving and leather work, but are also good for sculpting in clay.

    • kristi said, on 03/11/2011 at 6:03 pm

      The two items above the thumbtack tin are grommet cutters, they are used for a variety if things but primarily for making holes in leather and fabrics. They come in varying sizes, and one can usually get grommets or eyelets to match the size of the cutter. Once the hole is made the grommet setter is used to fasten two pieces of the metal grommet together to secure the hole and make it stable. It explains the mallet also as the mallet is used to gently drive the cutter through the leather or fabric. http://www.pacificcoastsignsupply.com/catalog/Grommets.htm

  30. Laura said, on 03/11/2011 at 8:44 am

    I am absolutely smitten with this project. Thanks for sharing!

  31. Kevin said, on 03/11/2011 at 10:17 am

    I believe that what has been variously called a compass, tweezers, and caliper is most accurately named “dividers”. We used them in drafting for two purposes. First was to transfer measurements from a scale (ruler) to the work surface. Second was to accurately divide a space into equal parts. This was done by opening the dividers to approximately the correct distance and then walking them across the distance the required number of times. If you came up long or short of the full distance, you’d adjust the dividers accordingly and do it again. This eliminates the need to do math to divide something into equal sections. If you Google “drafting dividers” you can see the modern day version of these.

  32. Shelton said, on 03/11/2011 at 1:21 pm

    Everything together, I think she probably did some varied projects but I’d put book binding near the top of her craft. Others noted glycerine being used to clean and keep inks from drying out, but it also works as a plasticizer when mixed with glue… making it more flexible.

  33. Damià W. Plinge said, on 04/11/2011 at 11:34 am

    Specially with the explanation from Corky, seems really plausible that those are tools for leather craft. But I digress as there I haven’t seen some key tools missing like a round knife or any good knife for what’s worth. Also I am unaware if at that period they used some of the modern sewing tools we use today, but there are none of them, despite by side of the glicerine there is a thread reel, but to my self doesn’t look proper for leather crafting.

    What do you think?

    • Kilian Metcalf said, on 04/11/2011 at 3:09 pm

      I’m thinking that knives would be discouraged in a residental psychiatric facility, unless the resident is closely supervised. I was surprised altogether at the number of sharp objects and chemicals in this suitcase. I believe they would be considered potentially dangerous in any residential psych facility today.

  34. Louise Sanfaçon said, on 06/11/2011 at 12:06 pm

    Beautiful pictures, very moving. The tools seem to be for printmaking and book binding.

  35. natashaluxe (@natashaluxe) said, on 10/11/2011 at 7:32 pm

    wow. wow. wow. i worked out the heinz history center in pittsburgh pa and was able to be the first to touch lots of old “junk” to the parties that brought them in, and it just made my heart skip a few beats. your photos are thoughtful, respectful and lovely.

  36. alyssa said, on 13/11/2011 at 10:09 pm

    will you be doing anything publically with this project?
    i am going to college right near albany & my boyfriend is in albany. we went to the museum last year and i didnt see anything like this! too cool. i would love to come if you have a related event.

    • joncrispin said, on 14/11/2011 at 7:20 am

      Alyssa. Not sure yet what will happen with the photos. Check out this site for updates.

  37. Peach Farm Studio said, on 20/11/2011 at 4:30 pm

    A poem inspired by the photos of Jon Crispin and the work of Lin Stuhler is located at http://peachfarmstudio.wordpress.com/2011/11/20/poem-signs-suitcases/

  38. Rhonda said, on 30/11/2011 at 1:10 pm

    Most of these tools look like they are for leather working, but I think she could have done etching as well. The glass paperweight? Maybe she etched that? But, most of them look to be leather working tools.

  39. Madelyn said, on 30/11/2011 at 3:33 pm

    I seem to recall that briefly, in the late Victorian era or just before the turn on the century, there was a fad of doing leatherwork which quickly disappeared because it was not easy to do well. Perhaps Maude was one of the few people who were good at it or just enjoyed it, and kept doing it past its popularity.

    (Google turned up nothing, but based on what I recall about it, I am willing to bet it’s one of the many fads mentioned in Connie Willis’ novel “The Bellwether.”)

  40. Rose said, on 30/11/2011 at 11:55 pm

    Leatherworking perhaps, but those tools were also used for copperplate engraving and jewelry engraving. Copperplate engraving fits, as it is painstaking and involves great patience. It would have been ‘prescribed’ for theraputic purposes.

  41. squirrelgrl said, on 02/12/2011 at 2:57 am

    The wooden sticks look like pernambuco, also known as brazilwood. This is a dense heartwood which produces a range of dyes from orange to a particular shade of purple known as brasil or bresil. (Incidentally, Brazil was named for the large number of brazilwood trees which grow/grew there) This was a highly sought after wood for the textile trade because of the range of colours it produces. It is also the only decent type of wood for the manufacture of bows for violins, cellos etc. because of it’s density strength and resilience, and these two uses have driven it to endangered status currently. The wood is exceptionally strong and hard, and dulls the cutting edge of tools very quickly, which may also explain the sharpening stone in her possession. They do look like pen blanks, but given that she seemed to fancy violet ink, I wonder if she might have used them for dyeing fabrics. Alum is an excellent mortar for brazilwood dyes. Did she have any of that in her suitcase?

  42. [...] about a time capsule from the early 20th century? Jon Crispin has been documenting some of the suitcases left behind by patients at the Willard Psychi…. There’s also a fascinating online exhibit you can tour with more detail about certain [...]

  43. Maren said, on 03/12/2011 at 9:32 am

    What a great project. Thanks so much for sharing! I was especially excited to see that Carborundum block since my Grandmother worked for them for many years, but I’ve never seen anything of theirs as old as this block.

  44. Leslie Anderson said, on 14/12/2011 at 11:50 am

    I suppose you must know by now that Maude was an artist. There are conte crayons, etching tools, and of course the ink. The “tweezers” appear to be calipers. Used to measure and transfer a line etc. It seems that she may have practiced a number of graphic techniques from woodcut to etching and beyond. Poor Maude.

  45. Leslie Anderson said, on 14/12/2011 at 11:59 am

    Jjust looked again and noticed the tools that would be used to work with (model) clay. This woman had wide variety of skills. The tools remain but what of her work?
    This whole thing opens up thoughts about women and their art and how society treated them. Was she crazy? And how crazy did she get when deprived of the only things she cared to take along to that institution?

  46. richele said, on 15/12/2011 at 12:55 pm

    many of the tools pictured are used for making hand made books. The small wooden pieces look to be “furniture” the pieces used to fill in the gaps when setting type via letterpress as it’s called now.

    the leather working tools for covers, the thread/ leather strips for book binding, inks and others for writing etc.

  47. randal said, on 28/12/2011 at 11:09 pm

    She Made Fountain pens or pens of some sort. There are a bunch of hardwood blanks in one pic and tons of ink. along with the wood carving tools 1and 1 make 2

  48. Houdini said, on 05/01/2012 at 3:09 pm

    Absolutely stunnnnnning!!!!!

  49. Jacqueline Smith said, on 20/03/2012 at 7:33 pm

    I believe it is a leather kit. My dad and I were looking at the photos and he recognized him from watching his father (my grandfather) work with the same tools when he would make leather belts and such.

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