I will post some personal photos separately.
Crane's Cherry Finish Stationary Cabinet harkens back to another era when fine letter-writing was the norm, rather than the exception. This is, after all, the company that still produces The Blue Book of Stationary, a guide to correspondence etiquette.
The first thing you should notice about this cabinet is its name: note it's "cherry finish," not "cherry wood." Having the cabinet made of solid or even veneer cherry wood would have bumped the price into the hundreds of dollars. The finish, however, is exquisite, reminiscent of the rich, matte finish and tone of Vilas furniture. The stain is even, except for one section of the router groove in the lid of mine. I tried a little Old English Polish (for dark woods) and it helped, but I still find that groove a little distracting. Otherwise the finish is smooth and beautiful.
The cabinet itself is very well made. It measures 12 3/4 (not 12 1/2, as indicated) x 9 inches at the base and 6 inches high. I was concerned about the kind of warping that is common with wooden pen cases (i.e. as the wood dries, the box twists, making it wobble on the desk), but this cabinet arrived dead square and stable. The small, sliding tray that fits into the top compartment, however, was warped. Several days beneath a stack of books mostly straightened it out. The joints of the main box are glued using tongue-and-groove, not fastened using hardware, and they are finished flush and square. In fact, the quality of the craftsmanship overall is excellent. If this box was made somewhere in Asia, which it most probably was, it doesn't show. The drawer slides smoothly, fits snug, and all surfaces are flush. The only real sign of a mass manufactured product is the sliding tray, which is a bit flimsy and, as I have said, arrived warped due to humidity change. If you can overlook that detail, you will be very pleased with the quality of the woodworking. I especially like the moulded edging of the lid and the scrolled moulding along the bottom that functions as the cabinet's feet. Such details, in addition to the inlaid brass hinges and the rubber cushion pads on the underside of the lid, place this cabinet aesthetically heads and tails above other stationary cabinets such as the Espresso Stationary Box from The Container Store.
The second significant thing you need to know about this cabinet is that it was designed to store Crane stationary. The tray inside the lid holds 7 1/4 x 10 1/2 inch Monarch letter sheets, and two compartments inside on top hold the matching envelopes. This restriction gave me pause at first since I don't normally use Crane stationary; however, I later realized that I could always cut slightly larger paper by other manufacturers down to this size, and it is a very nice size for handwritten letters. A similar restriction occurs in the drawer beneath, which is designed to hold Crane's 4 1/4 x 6 3/8 Kent correspondence cards and envelopes. I wish Crane had made that division of the drawer differently, or had not made a divider at all. This would have allowed storage of greeting cards (of which I have many) and matching envelopes, or at least to have made one compartment big enough to hold standard-sized postcards. As is, I can fit some smaller cards there; the rest will have to remain in my desk. The remaining sections on top nicely hold my wax seal and lighter, my ink stamp, and the sliding drawing fits my postage stamps and wax sticks. Two grooves in the drawer on the far left hold two large fountain pens. There is not enough room in this cabinet for ink.
One cabinet could not possibly hold all of my stationary paraphernalia, but it holds my essentials and looks beautiful on my desktop. If you've ever wanted a central place to store your stationary, stamps, wax seal, small greeting or note cards, and your current pens, you should consider this cabinet. It may cost more than other cabinets, but its quality and craftsmanship make it a potential heirloom after many years of use and enjoyment.
Edited by bushellk, 08 July 2009 - 21:16.