“We used to wait in the library in the evening until we could hear his key rattling in the latch of the front hall, and then rush out to greet him; and we would troop into his room while he was dressing, to stay there as long as we were permitted, eagerly examining anything which came out of his pockets which could be regarded as an attractive novelty. Every child has fixed in his memory various details which strike it as of grave importance. The trinkets he used to keep in a little box on his dressing-table we children always used to speak of as “treasures.” The word, and some of the trinkets themselves, passed on to the next generation. My own children, when small, used to troop into my room while I was dressing, and the gradually accumulating trinkets in the “ditty-box”—the gift of an enlisted man in the navy—always excited rapturous joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt
Growing up, one item that loomed large in my boyish imagination was a small wooden box my dad kept on top of his dresser. There was nothing really special about the box itself. What made the box an object of fascination was what my dad kept inside it.
The box was the place my dad stored all his little trinkets that he had gathered through the years: pocket knives, cufflinks, class rings, and tie bars are just some of the items he kept in the box. But to me and my brother, my dad’s knickknacks were more than mere trinkets. They were treasures.
It was always a treat when dad would bring his treasure box down from the dresser and let me and my brother explore the items. I was amazed how much stuff he was able to cram into such a small space. Even as a boy, I recognized that my dad’s treasures were pretty darn manly. The box even had the faint manly smell of metal and musk.
I’ve talked to other men who share a similar memory as mine. Just like Theodore Roosevelt, they can remember specific items from their father’s or grandfather’s “treasure box.”
My dad’s treasure box is still in the same place it’s always been for nearly 30 years. Last weekend I visited my folks and brought my camera along so I could take some pictures of my dad’s treasure box and share them on the site. Below I take you all on a photo tour of my dad’s treasure box. I also snapped some photos of my own burgeoning treasure collection.
The Guardian of My Dad’s Treasure Box Since 1978: The Ceramic Mallard Soap-On-A-Rope Holder
My Treasure Box
I’ve continued the tradition of keeping some “treasures” above my dresser. My dad gave me some of his treasures, to which I’ve added my own mementos. I’ve had several treasure boxes over the years, including old cigar boxes. Those are great man treasure boxes. Today I keep my trinkets in a wooden valet that I got for Christmas a few years ago. My collection is pretty paltry compared to my dad’s, but to be fair, he’s had a few more decades than me to build up his collection.
What’s in Your Treasure Box?
Who else out there has a box on their dresser that contains their manly “treasures?” What do you have in your box? Share with us in the comments.
Better yet, share a picture of your treasures with us. Take a picture of them and upload it to the AoM Community, or you can use Instagram and tag them with with @artofmanliness and #manlytreasures. I’m looking forward to learning about your man treasures!
If you don’t have a ditty-box for your manly treasures, start one today. It’s a great way to store your memories as well as those small assortments you use on a regular basis like tie bars and watches. It doesn’t have to be very fancy. Old cigar boxes are great for holding man treasures. (If you’re looking for a cigar box, pick up The Art of Manliness Collection. It’s both our books encased in a vintage inspired cigar box.) Or just pick up an inexpensive box from a craft store, like Hobby Lobby. Someday your kids will enjoy rummaging through your manly treasures and hearing the stories behind the interesting things you’ve picked up along life’s way!
Last updated: February 10, 2016