Traveling Trunk Owned by Baron de la Roche, 1964.79.1

Traveling Trunk Owned by Baron de la Roche, 1964.79.1

This beautiful traveling case was once owned by Baron de la Roche who was an aide de camp to Lafayette during the American Revolution. He was born in Treves, Germany in 1757 and raised there though his family was originally French. He attained the rank of officer in the American army and in 1790 de la Roche became an American citizen. Later he returned to Europe and was killed in the in the Battle of Austerlitz, one of Napoleon's greatest victories. At the time of his death in 1805, he was listed as a member of the Society of the Cincinnati, an order exclusive to former generals to Washington and their descendents.

 

Baron de la Roche’s finely-made, veneered traveling case dates to the 1770s and may have been used during the Revolution. It is unusually well fitted-out and includes 2 traveling brass candlesticks, a covered silver powder box, a silver sponge box, a silver soap dish, a silver shaving pan, a silver shaving basin, five silver trays, a razor, razor strap, a wooden wig curler; 2 glass toilet bottles (one with liquid), an Anglo-Irish cut-glass dish, a glass funnel, a snuff box, needle case, pen case with quills, 2 French porcelain lidded jars, a tin kettle with a detachable handle for boiling water, large tin can for holding wig powder, a small tin box with wool batting, a large tooth comb, and an etched wine glass. The chest has a drawer with multiple compartments for letters and other documents. In addition, the razor strap bears the label of the Parisian retailer of the chest, firmly connecting it with de la Roche’s time just before the Revolution. Taken together, these objects document not only de la Roche’s high-style taste, but what one gentleman of position and rank regarded as necessities.

 

This case is currently on display in our exhibition Inventing a Nation: Maryland in the Revolutionary Era.