The Museum Collection

Poe's Wife's Trinket Box

ID #:
Creator: Unknown
Format: Wood, leatherette, metal
Source: Josephine Poe
Collection: Poe Foundation, Inc.
Place of Publication:
Publish Date:


Poe's wife, Virginia Clemm Poe, owned this little trinket box covered in red leatherette. Often on the verge of starvation, the Poe family lived in modest homes and had few expensive possessions. For this reason, Virginia would have cherished small items such as this, which she could have carried with her as she traveled up and down the East Coast as her husband looked for magazines to publish his stories and articles.

After Mrs. Poe's early death in 1847, when she was only twenty-four, the box passed to her mother Maria Clemm, who left it to her Poe relatives in Baltimore shortly before her death in 1871. It was given to the Poe Museum in 1928 by her relative, Josephine Poe. The box is now displayed alongside a portrait of Virginia Poe, a mirror said to have belonged to her, and a soup ladle once used by the Poe family. The simple items from Poe's adult residences stand in sharp contrast to the conspicuous luxury with which he was surrounded while living as a child with his wealthy foster parents. Poe's poverty in his adult life is the result of his attempts to become the first American writer to support himself entirely from the sale of his writing.