Antique Traveling Salesman Case

Who is old enough to remember the smell of an old Victrola cabinet, especially on a rainy weekend in Castlewood? Some unique combination of shellacked wood, musty old felt, and Guy Lombardo. I was bowled over by this aroma yesterday when I pulled out an old traveling salesman’s case* and opened it to check on the contents. [Correction: it’s a “machinist’s cabinet”]

Jim bought the case some years ago to store some of his Civil War tintypes. It has tongue-and-groove drawers and closes up securely. It’s covered in a dull black leatherette, but is overall pretty nifty. But OH! it smelled. And the felt lining was totally gross. At first I thought the felt was rotting and was about to pitch the whole thing as a biohazard, but it seems to be just dirty and disintegrated.

Running a drawer under warm water dissolves the old glue and, with the help of a razor scraper, the felt is coming out. I’m not sure what I’ll do for the top compartment, since I suspect the felt was attached with the same glue as the exterior leatherette. Maybe it wouldn’t be a tragedy to soak that off too. Not sure yet how much of a project I want to make it.

Anyway, now that a couple drawers are dry, I can tell that it is the wood that carries the nostalgic aroma — not cedar, but a soft wood. Wish I knew more. It is sweeter without the horrid felt, but it still gives me kind of a headache.

*Photo on the right — that is me caught in the mirror.


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11 Responses to Antique Traveling Salesman Case

  1. Wow, I hope you’re keeping it! And those tintypes look pretty cool. Do you have a spot to hang those? If not, are you putting them on ebay or selling to auction house? How much do those usually go for?

  2. I remember that old Victrola cabinet…Geo and I loved to play it…then Ewald threw it in the hole behind the club house to help fill it up. 🙁

  3. Nevermind. I thought those were like printing plates, but it looks like they’re cases. Very pretty, though.

  4. @Ellen, the tintypes (photos on “tin”) are inside the cases — all Civil War soldiers — pretty valuable but I’m not sure we’re ready to sell them. I’m definitely keeping the cabinet, now that I got the gross felt out. Now the drawers are raw wood… wondering if I should coat them with a clear something or do a little decoupage-y thing (don’t know if I can sustain a craft attack). @Barb, Ewald was great, but not always an antiques connoisseur! 😀

  5. What an antique you have.Tongue & groove drawers, they don’t make them like that anymore. I think you should shellac the drawers so that the raw wood would become more visiable.

  6. Not an expert of course. I meant visible! Enjoy, it’s a treasure.

  7. I have toi tell you about that old Victrola cabinet. When it was at my mother’s home on Rowan, it was a windup record player. She had it electrified and we had a great time with it. My girlfriends and I could jitterbug after we picked up the rug.

  8. Mom, was that the one in Kitty Mom’s front room? I remember one out at Castlewood that was still wind-up (I think?) — probably the same one Barbara remembers.

  9. the one in Castlewood was a wind up….we use to take turns (Geo and I ) winding it up…..I cannot remember the one on Rowan…I remember her piano and she would play it (by the window over the grocery store entrance) and she would ask me to sing “The Tennesse Waltz”…….

  10. @Barb, the “player” I remember on Rowan was a boxy piece of furniture with a radio in it. Maybe’s the old one went out with the jitterbug. 😀 And then there was that giant cabinet TV with the “secret” 45-rpm record player in the side. BTW, does anyone in your family still have the piano? I remember so many hours there trying to sound out songs…

  11. Yes George and Nancy son Georgie has the piano and had it looks wonderful except for the keys son Tim when he was little was “making music” and my mom thought he was using his little fingers well he had a drum stick and chipped a number of the ivory keys 🙁 needless to say my mom was not happy…they told Georgie it would be costly to repair them. 🙁 ….children !!!!!!!

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