Inscriptions on this group of boxes are proof of their specific content. Written in script on the front and back of the small rectangular apple box (57.26.570) is the word Emery. This abrasive is a coarse form of aluminum oxide and has long been used for polishing metals. It was used by the Dominys in the form of emery buff sticks or emery paper to clean steelwork such as arbors. Felix Dominy used the tiny circular European cherry box (57.26.565) to store Chain hooks and hair springs (inscribed on the top) and hair springs coiled (inscribed on the bottom.) The hooks were used for watch chains and the hairsprings in repairing watches. Clock Hands were stored in the narrow rectangular white pine box (57.26.563), but the inscription on the fourth is not legible. An initial P is visible, followed by what appears to be the letters Bau. According to family history, the large mahogany box (57.100.5) was used to store a vial of chemicals and was kept in one of the storage openings in the chimney of the clock shop. All four rectangular boxes were hollowed from solid blocks of wood.
Mahogany box, gift of Nathaniel M. Dominy. Others, Museum Purchase
The boxes shown here served as storage bins for the glass crystals used in watch repair, one of the Dominys' important sources of income. Each box is divided into compartments— twenty-four in the large example and eight in the smaller. These are numbered from 10 to 33 (A), and 20 to 27 (B). Most of the glasses have paper labels denoting sizes, although it is obvious that they have become mixed. A label, therefore, does not always correspond to the stamped number of its compartment. Some of the labels bear the printed inscription W. B. & Cie, the name of the manufacturer or exporter of these crystals. The printing style suggests a date between 1820 and 1840.
Boxes, Nathaniel Dominy IV (maker), 1770-1800. Pine, white. 18.1" (L). Museum purchase with funds provided by Henry Belin du Pont, 1957.0026.606-.607
Watch crystals, Felix Dominy (purchaser), 1818-1835. T & B Denilt, NYC; 1829 - A. Mathy, NYC. Totaling eight dozen glasses for $5.35.