Found in the Attic – Part IV: Back to School… in 1898

Just in time for the “back to school” season we catalogued this unique pencil box from 1898! The pencil box is made of tin and ceramic and was found containing 20 ceramic pointed sticks (not writing utensils – we think they were for some type of game).

Upon closer examination, we could see it was more than just an ordinary pencil holder. The bottom half has a diagonal band and circular cutouts to display multiplication “answers” from aligning numbers on the central and bottom cylinder. A 4 inch/ 10 meter ruler runs the length of the bottom piece, and the lid has images of a female teacher and male students; one writing a multiplication problem on the chalkboard (no doubt getting help from his handy pencil box). Forget the abacus – any late 19th century child would be ready for straight A’s with this versatile school supply!

Tin, ceramic; S.A. Ilsley & Co.; Brooklyn, NY; USA; c. 1898 Marks: top & bottom ends – “Pedagogue/ Pencil Box”; near bottom – “PATENTED NOV. 1st, 1898”; bottom cylinder near seam – “S.A. ILSLEY & CO., BROOKLYN, N.Y.”Inside – .02-.21 – L – 14.8 cm.