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Pounce boxes are containers with perforated heads used to hold and discharge a fine powder made of sand or pounce (pulverized gum sandarac). When shaken onto freshly written documents, the powder stops the ink from running. Pounce boxes were considered essential elements of writing equipage in the eighteenth century. According to family legend, George Washington used this particular example during the Revolutionary War.


Pounce box constructed of tin-soldered, horizontal lap-joined iron sheets; the cylindrical vessel is constructed from one strip of iron joined by a vertical seam; the base is set into the bottom and sealed with tin solder; the top is a circular piece of sheet iron perforated with 39 holes in ever widening concentric circles; the edges are crimped an folded upwards to create a well; the whole is set to the lip of the body and soldered into place.


c. 1776-1783



Iron, tin


Overall: 2 3/8 in. x 2 3/8 in. x 2 3/8 in. (6.05 cm x 6.05 cm x 6.05 cm)

Credit Line

Gift of Marian Clifford Martin, 1897
Conservation courtesy of Harry and Erika Lister

Object Number


Colors (Beta)

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