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Object ID # 1961.064.066abcd
Object Name Desk, Portable
Title Woman's 19th-century Writing Box
Lexicon category 6: T&E For Communication
Date 19th-century
Made Unknown
Place of Origin Ireland, United Kingdom?
Description This is a small, black-finished papier-mache 19th century portable (lap) desk, with interior compartments for ink wells, stationery, nibs, etc. This sort of lap desk was useful when travelling, or when one did not have a large desk to work at. This would have likely originally been used by a female.
A. Box has a brass locking mechanism, with a tear-drop-shaped keyhole. The exterior is darkly-finished, with gilt-coloured, painted, decoration on the corners and a central mother-of- pearl inlay motif work on the lid (the gilt simulates brass inlay). The lid is scalloped and has an interior space for holding stationery or letters (sometimes called a letter pocket). It is covered with a cloth-hinged, plush-covered wooden lid, that has a brass hook catch to keep it closed. The base of the box has another cloth-hinged blotting surface lid over a stationery compartment. In front is a rectangular section for pens, pencils and nibs. This section is flanked by two square compartments for the ink well bottles.
B. Compartment Cover: It is a plain, flat piece of wood which covers the pen storage compartment.
C. 1&2 This ink well bottle is made of clear glass in a squat shape with a push-up base. It has a knurled, screw-top brass lid, which is circular. The bottle is 4.5 cm x 4.5 cm x 3.5 cm, with a 2.5 cm diameter lid. There is some ink remaining within.
D. 1&2 This ink well is identical to the above.
Provenance This writing box (lap desk) was brought from Ireland in the 19th-century by Mr. William Penner of Sullivan Township, Grey County. It likely had belonged to a female when it was new.

"Elisha Penner, born April 6, 1836, in Castlebar, Mayo, Ireland, came to Canada when he was 17 years old in 1853 with his brothers William, John, Jim, Tom and his sister Jane. It took them five weeks and four days to cross the ocean. This family all settled on land on Concession 7 and 8, which was then densely forested.

William Penner also settled near his brothers and sister. His son Jack carried on farming having taken out land from the Crown. He and his wife Catherine retired in Desboro."

In 1974, Hugh E. Penner, grandson of Elisha, died, thus ending the line of the Penner surname in Sullivan Township.

The 1865-1866 Gazetteer & Directory of the County of Grey listed the following Penners in Sullivan Township:
Penner, Elisha C. 6 Lot 7
Penner, Wm. C. 7 Lot 6
Penner, James C. 7 Lot 7
Penner, John C. 9 Lot 10
- - - - -
-THE HISTORY OF SULLIVAN TOWNSHIP, 1850-1975, pp. 284-285.

Last owned by Beatrice McDonald (neƩ McKinley) who grew up in Bognor, Sydenham Township, Grey County. Her parents, William McKinley and Mary Penner, married in 1880 and lived at Bognor, in Sydenham Township, Grey County. Beatrice married Peter McDonald in 1926. Circa 1961, she resided at Chatsworth, Ontario.

She likely was also related to Wm. McKinley Sr. (b. 1819 in Scotland) and his wife Beatrice McKinley (b. 1829 in Scotland). This older couple had emigrated in 1856. They too were in the 1901 census, as were her parents.

Beatrice McDonald, was a grand-daughter of William Penner of Sullivan Township, Grey County, who had emigrated from Ireland in the 19th-century.

The c.1880 map of Sullivan Township present in the H. Belden illustrated atlas of Grey County has the Wm. Penner farm labelled.

Collection Office Equipment & Accessories Collection
Material Wood/Glass/Brass/Mother-of-Pearl?
Dimensions H-10.1 W-33 L-22.8 cm
Found Sullivan Township (formerly), Township of Chatsworth, Grey County
People Penner, William
McKinley, William
McDonald, Beatrice
Subjects Desks
Writing materials
Search Terms Victorian