Author: Elizabeth Chase

boat race bowl
Boat Race Day
The theme of travel as expressed through ship and boat motifs on ceramics was very popular in early twentieth-century England. Eric William Ravilious was a prolific designer of this period whose work reflected this practice. Ravilious, who studied engraving, illustration, color printing, and mural painting, took over the legendary firm of Josiah Wedgwood and Sons,...
An exuberant birdcage
Though the Victorians were the first to collect birdcages, the hobby of bird-keeping and the craft of cage-making date back to the ancient Greeks. In virtually every culture, the bird has been a metaphor for the human soul, and the birdcage the corporeal prison of the soul. The years 1750 to 1850 witnessed the most...
man riding ostrich on match safe
When you need to keep your matches dry…
Matchsafes can be considered a type of travel case. In about 1830, the first friction matches were invented, and matchsafes, usually stashed in a man’s vest pocket or attached to a watch chain, were designed to keep matches dry at a time when they were vital for lighting kitchen stoves as well as cigars, pipes,...
Birdcage fishbowl

This object, a rare combination of a birdcage and fishbowl, from The Netherlands in the early nineteenth century, expresses the eclectic tendencies of this period. The square birdcage serves as the base for a spherical, double-walled, blown-glass fishbowl. The roof of the wooden box is retractable, creating an opening into the inverted inner glass bowl. Ostensibly, the bird could fly up into this globe and appear to be swimming with the fish. The birdcage, made of mahogany, features wire details on the windows. The fishbowl is decorated with a polychrome enameled landscape scene of a castle-like building atop a rocky island, with boats and sailing ships at sea. One ship is flying a red, white, and blue Dutch flag.

Two women and a gentleman are shown standing on the deck of a ship leaning against the rail at right. In the distance, a view of a harbor with ships.
Souvenir of a Ball
By the late nineteenth century, travel was an integral component of society life for both men and women. It was also an opportunity for displays of lavish wealth, and James-Jacques-Joseph Tissot’s print, relating to a painting of the same title, and the second in his set of three “social conversation pictures,” illustrates this trend. Treated...
Rectangular cage (a) with turned corner posts terminating in pointed finials at top, ball feet; pierced gallery around top edges; hinged door at one side; rectangular, partitioned 'food trough' in cage, next to door; two red and orange ivory birds sit on flat green perch suspended in cage. Orange silk cord attached to ring at top of cage, and decorated with orange and black tassel, flat ivory bird (b), and knotted green bands near tassel.
An ornate cricket cage
This cricket cage is part of a group from Italy and Japan given to the Museum by the Hewitt sisters, demonstrating their eccentric taste. There is a longstanding appreciation in Japan and Asia of singing insects, such as cicadas and crickets. The custom of visiting places known for the abundance and quality of singing insects...
rectangular box,lined with purple silk, fitted with leather document holders, and mirror with gold-leaf foliate border, the upper level withy 4 rectangular and 1 central faceted silver-lidded cylindrical cologne jars, 3 silver-lidded glass boxes, 2 silver-lidded glass ink bottles, mother-of-pearl handled sewing implements, tweezers, button hook, pen knife and hole punch or scorer-all in the upper compartment, a secret drawer below fitted with a letter writing slide.
Fashionable cases fit for travel

Accessories were an important component of the well-traveled, and a number of travel cases in the collection exemplify the extent to which designers, and their patrons, celebrated their adventures and flaunted their status. Travel cases, made by companies such as Asprey & Son, became fashionable during the eighteenth century, when the Grand Tour was an essential part of a young man’s education.