A Very Useful Prize to Me

“And it was after long searching that I found out the carpenter’s chest, which was, indeed, a very useful prize to me, and much more valuable than a shipload of gold would have been at that time. I got it down to my raft, whole as it was, without losing time to look into it, for I knew in general what it contained.”

— Daniel Defoe, from “The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, of York, Mariner: Who lived Eight and Twenty Years, all alone in an un‐inhabited Island on the Coast of America, near the Mouth of the Great River of Oroonoque; Having been cast on Shore by Shipwreck, wherein all the Men perished but himself. With An Account how he was at last as strangely deliver’d by Pyrates.”

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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7 Responses to A Very Useful Prize to Me

  1. mdhills says:

    Wow, long time since I’ve read that. Interesting how writing has changed — hard to conceive of reading “whole as it was, without losing time to look into it, for I knew in general what it contained” in any contemporary fiction.

    Any idea how heavy a ship carpenter’s toolchest would be?

  2. Tico Vogt says:

    The sea air would have been hell on all the metal. How did they deal with it?

  3. I saw a chest in an antique mall yesterday that had what was claimed to be a sea chest. It had square nails and was deeply “weathered” but didn’t show any signs of rot per se. It looked like it had been varnished at some point in its life. It wasn’t built heavy enough to carry tools. It must have been for personal effects. How it ended up in southwest Missouri is anyone’s guess…

  4. Dave Fisher says:

    One of my favorite books as a kid and an adult, Chris. Robinson experiences the satisfaction of making the things he needs with his own hands (albeit out of necessity), and takes pride in his self-reliance and skill development. Sounds like another good book I’ve read recently. It’s got a picture of a wooden square on the front cover.

  5. Chris Adkins says:

    What a great book, I read it again last year when my wife and I were in the Bahamas, such a different perspective as an adult reading it.

    Great quote, makes you rethink what is really important in life. Even in our own lives the “gold” may run out but we still have our tools to keep creating.

  6. Jon says:

    Ahhh, back when book titles were descriptive! Who needs a backcover blurb?

  7. Clark Schoonover says:

    Just read it for the first time about 7 months ago. I wanted to give him a big “Atta boy!” when he found it. I also read “The Sun Also Rises” and “Lord of the Flies” …….. Where’s my man Friday?

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