On a trip in Australia, I came across two charming septuagenarian ladies.
They were offering silver table-ware, silver jewellery and two not-so-old Netsuke of dubious origin and age. Amidst all, I spotted a small green box with a lid that no longer closes properly. Carefully, I placed it in the palm of my hand and upon opening the lid, found a complete traveler’s writing set. The box covered in green shagreen, was lined with red satin. What had taken me aback was the small size of the writing set, but more so, that it was well used and yet in its complete, original state.
The small writing set is feminine by all means. I envisioned a young lady leaving England from one of the ports in the South, heading out on a long journey, not without fraught, to a new world, a new continent, called Australia. I imagine her being very young and having to travel with her family, leaving a heart-broken love back-home. Why this assumption? At the center of the travelling set rests an engraved small seal made from a natural crystal. For a seal it has the inconvenient shape of a conical drop with a silver hook that would allow its owner to wear it inconspicuously around the neck, as a simple piece of jewellery. The engraved surface shows two hearts, side to side, touching each other and bound together. Above the hearts the word UNIT is carved in an old font type and underneath the hearts, one can see a line of small flames. I can visualize our lady pressing its surface in red ink on letters of love and longing that travelled a long way back home.
The set is complete with two small glass jars with decorative silver lids to the left and right of the crystal seal. I did not manage to open one of the glass jars and it still contains the original black, sand-like, reflecting powder, which I have not managed to identify. Above the jars and seal, along the length of the small box rests a round, decorated silver “stem” on which three different types of steel quills and a small knife, arranged symmetrically around the seal, can be mounted.