All of the times she visited, she had never been up to the top floor. The door was always shut and a barrier placed in front which usually meant it was off limits to lookers...
On her last trip an older woman was running the shop, someone she had never seen before. She never left town on her visits before stopping at her favorite oddity shop that she stumbled across quite by accident. It seems that the owner had taken ill and the shop was being watched by her elderly mother who was just as pleasant and friendly as her daughter. There was a bathroom upstairs on the second floor and from there you could see a short flight of stairs that led to the top floor with a door at the end of the short hallway that was always cracked with a chair in front of it as a way of saying "off limits". After a brief chat with the shop keeper and a long look around mostly waiting for the rain to stop and picking up a few items, she made her way upstairs to the bathroom. The elderly woman offered her a look in the room upstairs making to sure to mention that there wasn't much of anything up there except a dusty storage room with items that were broken, or in need of repair. She apparently was unaware that her daughter was very protective of that room and never let anyone up there mostly due to the room being in disarray and a place for overflow. Based on the quirky items she purchased that day and the fact that it was still pouring outside, she thought it was a nice gesture of the shop keeper, who also didn't mind her company on that quiet day. She tried not to show her excitement as she had always wanted to venture into that room just from the peeks of the cracked door, and probably more so that it was off limits. She could always see just enough that she knew it was a catch all room and a place that boxes were stored and probably not looked at again for sometime. As she made her way from the bathroom to the top floor, the giving of the wooden stairs and the creaking of each step brought back old memories of going to play in her grandmother's attic. Upon entering the room, it was an odd shape and shared an unused half bath that was also filled with boxes and random items, mostly things that were not presentable for sale and most likely were broken or needed repair. She spend a longer time than she normally would looking through old magazines and musty books and linens she found in an old vintage wallpaper crate. It was difficult to see as it was cloudy outside and the light was not good from the lamp in the corner. After awhile she took it as a sign that is was time to go when the sun's rays came shinning through the lace curtains of the two small windows and the rain had stopped. Just as she was moving boxes back where she found them, she saw it.... in the corner on the floor, hidden behind a bag of vintage clothes. It was the beautiful carving that caught her eye.
Unsure of what it was, she already knew that it was something special. As she pulled it out and dusted it off, she saw writing, the kind of script from an antique fountain pen.
It was laying flat open much like a writing desk, not the kind that a school child would use, but because of it's simple and ornate beauty , more the kind that a writer or an artist would have made and carried with them on their travels.
As she gently picked it up to investigate the mystery of her extraordinary find, she gasped when she realized it folded up into a beautiful box. It appeared very old and something that was very loved. There were other random items with it and she knew right away that no amount of time can change the heart. . . . this was a Dream Box.
All the above is true. It was just an ordinary afternoon, but the time spent in the top room felt comfortable and familiar. The shop keeper or her daughter did not know of it's origin, and did not even recall having it. She thought it must have been brought in with other items that were picked up and stored and apparently had been in the corner of that room for a long time. She was not even aware that it folded up into a box. She was more than happy to sell me the items I found along with the box. You could tell she had done this for many years and the excitement for her had been dimmed by years of collecting and probably having more than she needed. She was more about the sale and chatting with me over the coffee she offered than anything that I discovered or was buying. She wasn't interested in researching the box or it's value and she priced it at a cost that made us both happy. The memory of that day still fondly lingers with me and this box is probably one of my most sweetest finds. It was obviously handmade with love and could have been used by a writer or an artist. . . but most definitely, a Dreamer.
Description and Box Dimensions:
This is what I think would be called an Antique Portable Writing Desk or Artist Desk. I did some research and I found a few on line but none with the character that this box has. I discovered and came to the conclusion that a box like this one is rare and hard to find. I have yet to see or find any that appear to be as old as this one that still contain some original writing or have the beautiful handmade carvings inside. You only have to touch and feel it to know that someone spent a lot of time filling this box with dreams.
This is a gorgeous piece and I am happy to share it with you. If you are interested in purchasing it, you can find it listed in my Etsy Shop. A perfectly wonderful gift for a collector of antiques, a writer, an artist or those like me who just love to dream.
Size: 14 3/4 inches long
8 1/2 inches deep
6 1/2 inches tall
unfolded - opened as desk, 17 inches across from top to bottom.
Wood: unknown, handmade dove tailed corners
Box closes and opens with ease. Key fits but lock does not work, may need cleaned or worked with.
Items included with box:
One vintage cabinet card
One vintage postcard
handmade welded heart
Antique skeleton key on vintage ribbon
glass piece, shell, handmade bird nest (added)
feather, paper, vintage/antique watercolor paint tin - Kroma Water Colors from the American Crayon Company,
Vintage lace and glass charm, ribbon, handmade blank art journal with 4 signatures each with 6 pages.
The top of box was hand painted and altered by me.
"As I look out at all of you gathered here, I want to say that I don't see a room full of Parisians in top hats and diamonds and silk dresses. I don't see bankers and housewives and store clerks. No. I address you all tonight as you truly are:
wizards, mermaids, travelers, adventurers, and magicians.
You are truly the dreamers."
Brian Selznick, The Invention of Hugo Cabret