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It’s a man’s world

12/22/2009
Snuff Box LP99

Decorated wooden rectangular snuff box with hinged lid and a coloured print of two figures in a punt boat near a pier, 1800-1825

If the head of a Victorian household wanted some time to himself, where did he go?

If he was comfortably-off, he might have gone to his study.  This is where he would settle his accounts, write his letters or just read a good book.  Usually, the study was his territory, often not a place where his wife or children would go uninvited: it was his private space.  If the children had misbehaved, he might tell them to wait for him in his study – not a welcome prospect!

In Victorian times it was unusual for married women to be involved in financial matters.  Their domain was the house, and for that they would receive an allowance from their husband, but were expected to keep household accounts for him to look at.  He would have looked after everything else, and the study was a place he could work without interruption.

Japanned Ware Spectacle Case LP186

Flip-top spectacles case with pewter decoration, edged with ivory and lined with velvet.

In the study there might be a large desk, on which he would keep writing equipment, some of which might have been made from japanned ware: perhaps a pen tray, a blotter (ink was very slow to dry then), a small stand for ink wells and a tray for candle snuffers.  There might also have been a note-paper holder, a letter rack, a pin tray, a snuff box or tobacco tin and a spectacle case all made from this amazing material.

Locked drawers would be the safe haven for cash and document boxes; both made of tin japanned ware for their fire resistance.

And when there was no business to attend to, by the fire place he might have a comfortable leather chair for reading, with a small table at the side for convenience.

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