Longfellow's Writing Case Conserved

Black box with two top flaps open revealing blue interior, small black tray, two inkwells, small key, and metal ferrule on table in front of case
The case and its writing accoutrements after treatment

NPS Photo / Joannie Bottkol

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News Release Date: February 27, 2018

This black faux leather writing case is visible in a circa 1873 photograph of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow at his study table. It was made by a London stationery manufacturer, and either purchased by Longfellow there on one of his European trips or imported by a Boston dealer.

Through years of use, the case’s condition had suffered – the lid flap was entirely separated, the lock escutcheon was loose, and the surface was dirty. An NPS conservator at the HACE Collections Conservation Branch carefully conserved the case to make it stable and available for exhibit. She cleaned the surfaces, leaving the historic ink stains and residues indicating Longfellow’s use of the case. Using a book repair technique, she re-attached the separated lid flap and added a faux-leather finish toned to match to cover the repair.

The project was funded with a grant from the park’s partner group, the Friends of the Longfellow House – Washington’s Headquarters.   Thanks to their generous support, the case will be on exhibit in Longfellow’s study when the park opens for visitation this spring.

Last updated: February 28, 2018

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