As many of you know, I've been on the hunt for the "perfect" gift for a friend completing his doctorate in the next year. I went from asking for gift pen advice to the wheels of my mind turning at full speed in pursuit of the ultimate Twain Collection: Pen, watch, book, all associated with Mark Twain, my friend's favorite author. The full gift presentation pics will come later when all the pieces are in place and home from restoration, etc. Right now, though, I'd like share with you the ultimate pen and paraphernalia presentation box designed just for this collection.
The designer is me. I had to have something to hold the Twain Collection, as I've come to call it. I wanted a nice box, unique, and I knew it wouldn't be coming prebuilt from any store. With my Field Notes notebook in hand, I set about trying to design the Twain Collection presentation box. My specs:
Had to be made of a very nice dark wood
Had to be a book box
Had be be able to use as a reading stand
Had to be of fair size but not TOO big, and be a piece to be treasured but also functional
Had to have nooks and crannies to house a vintage pen and vintage watch, small journal, and/or other assorted items (could double as a valet box)
Had to have a custom fit drawer to hold a rare edition book
Had to have a locking lid and a separate locking drawer, but with the same key
Had to have a writing surface.
I sketched out my ideas as they came to me (with my preppy eyedropper, heh), and I had some inspiration from the Jefferson Desk that has been talked of here on FPN, as well as some interesting antique writing slopes I saw on the 'net that doubled as book stands. Then I contacted Deb and Dan McBride of AzWoodman to ask if they could make the design reality. Here is the mess I sent them with my inquiry:
Well, this was quite a project. After some minor tweakage (we went from two handles to just a hand-made drawer handle and increased the over all size by 1/2 inch in both length and width) through emails and a phone call with Dan, they set about creating the Twain Collection presentation box. And here is the result:
I received this incredible box last night. I will be finishing it with a tung oil finish to let the beautiful rosewood stand out. The blonde wood inlay, the lid prop/easel-type stand, and the book rest are all made of birdseye maple. It is exactly to scale as I'd worked out (with the added 1/2 inch tweakage all around). The bookstand lid prop has built-in hinges (I don't know how else to describe them). There are two enclosed compartments on the first tier under the lid with slider lids, and two open compartments opposite. The center, open area fits well a Renaissance Art refillable journal, with a little extra room. The drawer fits the rare 1st edition book exactly, with just enough room on the side to allow for lifting the book out properly without stressing the covers or spine. What isn't shown in the collage, is the portable, lift-out writing surface made to fit perfectly on top of the top tier compartments when stored. It is made of hardboard, and will be covered on top with a hand-tooled leather writing surface and on the other side with an imitation leather bookbinding cloth of the same color. One side for fine writing, the other side for those other so-called writing things if one must use them. And it all locks up nicely with two locks keyed to fit the same keys. I've ordered a dark blue, antiqued leather writing surface for the hardboard, with antiqued gold embossing in a semi Renaissance style, and Tom Smith of Just Desk Leathers made some wonderful embellishment suggestions. (And he has a wonderful British accent and is a delight to speak with.)
Deb and Dan made my writing slope, and they have been very receptive to my special orders. I think this box is an outstanding example of their craftsmanship, and I think it truly is the perfect Twain Collection presentation box. That Conklin crescent filler will look fine inside, along with the vintage pocket watch and the book.
Cost - well, it was expensive. $300. But, for Bolivian Rosewood, Birdseye Maple, double dovetail joints, inlay, and a slew of other special requests, I don't think it was actually that expensive after all. And this collage does not do the box full justice. It really is too beautiful to describe.
The usual disclaimer applies: I am not affiliated with any of the vendors mentioned here, except that I am a very satisfied customer of all of them!
Edited by kiavonne, 23 April 2008 - 00:47.