110th PENNSYLVANIA ID’D CIVIL WAR BROOKS’ PATENT WRITING, WORK, AND TOILET CASE

$750.00 SOLD

Quantity Available: None

Item Code: 2021-955

This Brooks roll-up writing kit comes with a pencil note from the family, likely dating about 1890 or so, that was rolled up in the kit: “This was the property of William McClelenan Long. Son of Benjamin & Anna McClain Long. Veteran of the Civil War Co. B 110th Reg. Pa. Volunteers. Died June 6, 1878, Age 44 yrs. 4 mo. & 16 days.”

D.B. Brooks and brother ran a music and stationery store and joined others such as Hathaway in marketing a convenient roll-up writing kit that found a ready market among new soldiers and the loved ones who wanted to encourage them to write letters home. They improved upon the idea several times by combining the writing kit with other conveniences. This is a good example of their larger kit, which included both a sewing and toiletry kit, marketed as their “Military and Travelling Writing, Work and Toilet Case.”

Brooks’ kit uses a tin tube, open along one side as storage container with an attached fabric-lined oil-cloth waterproof flap that can be rolled up around it and tied closed. The flap functions as writing surface and a secondary interior flap has loops to hold various tools and toiletries such as scissors, etc. As usual, the contents are gone, having proved too useful in later civilian life, but fabric lining of the kit is in place, as is the Brooks advertising label with January 1864 patent date and the separate red-edged flap with loops to retain a razor, comb, scissors, etc., along with the basic open tin tube intended to hold inkwell, pen and pencils, writing paper, envelopes, and other material, which usually included a paper checkerboard and cardboard checkers. The maker/advertising label shows stains and some missing pieces at bottom edge, but is fully legible, and lists some of the contents of the kit, as well as other versions they were selling. The sales pitch includes some interesting reviews: "One of our Generals remarked that this case would be carried on the march, when the Knapsack would be left behind./ Many soldiers who have carried them through a campaign, would not part with them for many times their cost. / It is heartily commended by prominent officers of the Military and Naval Departments.”

The 110th Pennsylvania was organized 11/1/1861 and mustered out 6/28/65, having lost 118 officers and men killed or mortally wounded in engagements such as Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Petersburg, all the way up to Sailors Creek on 4/6/65. Its early service was in the Department of Western Virginia, Department of the Shenandoah, Army of Virginia, and elsewhere, but joined the Army of the Potomac in November 1862 and served the rest of the war in the 3rd and 2nd Army Corps.

Long’s service is a bit of mystery. He enlisted from Huntingdon County, Pa., and mustered in as a private in Co. B of the 110th for three years’ service on 10/24/61. Some records appear to list him as William B. Long, but indicate an age difference so there may have been two men of the same name in the company. In any case, he does not seem to appear in the regiment’s muster out rolls, on which Bates History of Pa. Volunteers and other records are based, and we only know that he was listed as a laborer in 1870 died in 1878, leaving a widow and two children. Some genealogical sites date his birth as 1832, but the family note is a better source, suggesting 1834 as a birthdate, which agrees with his age of 36 in the 1870 census.

Some diligence might bring out some details of Long’s service, but the kit shows use and would make a great addition to a display of soldier’s personal effects, a display of soldier letters, or as one of the many inventions advertised as making a soldier’s life easier such as combination mess gear, etc. Some stray pieces of paper adhere to it from storage that could be removed with a little water.  [sr] [ph:m]

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