Inside the Collections Care Project: A desk set that’s perfect for a wine drinker

Aug 15, 2014

At Historic New England’s facility in Haverhill, Massachusetts, the collection services team is now one month into the Collections Care Project. We are more than a quarter of the way toward our goal of moving and documenting more than 20,000 objects so that facility improvements can take place, and are continuing to work this week on ceramics, like the desk set shown here.

Although inkwells and desk sets date back to the early seventeenth century, they reached peak popularity from 1830 to the early twentieth century. At first glance, this desk set appears to be typical. It contains several parts, including an inkwell, a sander, and two parallel slots for candlesticks.

This desk set, however, has brightly painted portraits of Bacchus, the Roman god of wine, on each side. Bacchus is usually found adorning jugs or other implements intended for serving alcohol. His addition to the desk set transforms this artifact into a whimsical addition to any desk.

Stay tuned for next week’s fascinating object. Support the preservation of Historic New England’s one-of-a-kind collection with a gift to the Collections and Conservation Fund.