he spark of creativity is often caused by association with others of the same ambition. The brothers Lyman and D. Brainard Brooks of Salem Massachusetts were doubtlessly inspired to achieve great things when they purchased their buisiness. The previous owner of the business, John P.Jewett, went on to enormous wealth and success as the publisher of the first edition of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
The Brookses had collaborated with Jewett on several books prior to the transfer fo the business.
Their music and stationary store was in the lower level of a two story building; the business above them was a printing office. As it had begun in the 18th century and passed through many owners, they opted to keep the name as the Bible and Heart. The store featured a hand carved sign over the threshold, which was torn down and thrown into the harbor by vandals during the war of 1812.
There were a few distributors of this writing kit, most notably the McCalister Brothers, who operated an stationary, optics and music store in Philadelphia.
There were several products that the Brooks’ produced for the soldier market. The larger combined sewing and writing kit received a patent in 1864, and owing to its late introduction very rarely found its way into the military marketplace before the close of the war. The one what we chose to reproduce is the one most frequently found among soldier’s effects.
This reproduction is based upon originals in the John Tobey, John Ockerbloom and Horse Soldier collections. This project started with the most difficult item, which turned out to be the small inkwell, which appears to be particular to this writing kit. The tin tray was no doubt designed with a flat bottom, and dimensionally so that the inkwell would lock in place and slide freely. This reproduction is custom produced, and is made of traditional blown glass. The pewter cap and threads are cast in custom produced molds.
The checkerboard was reproduced by P. M’Dermott from the example in the John Tobey collection. Mr. Tobey very graciously shared dimensions and details of the checkerboard and surviving stamped cardboard checkers.
The side piece to the metal tube is die stamped and formed to identically match the originals. The side panels have a slightly convex face, and are painted black to blend with the painted cloth exterior.