Presbyterians of the Past

Collecting the Offering Discreetly

The pictures that follow this introduction show what I call “The Left Hand Doesn’t Know What the Right Hand is Doing Collection Box” (i.e. Matthew 6:3). It is modeled after the original collection box I saw in the Presbyterian Historical Society in Montreat many years ago. The original box was used by Marshall Presbyterian Church in Virginia, which was established in 1849 and is believed not to exist today. It may be that a jointer in the congregation crafted the original from cutoffs collected in his workshop. It is a creative way to collect the offering but as my minister said when he saw pictures, “it looks cumbersome.” During worship the usher may have passed the handle of the box to a person in the pew then it was rotated so the next person could take it by the other handle. Hopefully no little ones were whacked in the head by the handles when the box rotated its way down the pews.

The wood used for this replica is poplar, except for the pine collar in the top and the unknown hardwood used for the handles. The hand-cut dovetails at the top of the box were particularly challenging because of the mitered corners. The collection box measures handle tip to handle tip 13”; the collar is 1” high with 2 ¾”O. D. and 1 ¾” I. D.; the box portion itself measures 6 ½” wide, 4 ½” deep, and 4 ¼” high and is made of boards ½” thick; the top board is also ½” thick; and the handles are 1” diameter. The mitered base is made up of molding milled from ¾” stock but on the inside edge at the base there is a lip ¼” wide that creates a ledge for the box to set in (i.e. ¾” quarter round with a ¼” square portion protruding from the bottom). The handles were taken from cheap trowels bought at a flea market; they are mounted with flat-head wood screws from the inside. The handles are kept from rotating by a nail point projecting from their mating ends.

Barry Waugh

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