For our optional World Watercolor Month prompt of “Valuable,” my mind jumped back in time to when I was a kid. My mother had several tiny antique jewelry boxes that fascinated me. They were so small that they could only hold one precious little treasure, and had ornate designs that made them seem magical. For scale, we also have a hamster coveting a pearl. I’ve no idea if hamsters are particularly into pearls, but I just really felt like sketching one. As for those antique boxes, I don’t think they cost much money at the time, but they seemed so valuable to me. They were such cool little pieces of art. My mother ended up giving me one, most likely so I’d stop peering into hers all of the time. It was a gold box that could only hold something about the size of a quarter. Indeed, a coin is exactly what I chose to put in it, this wasn’t any ordinary coin. It was one I used for magic tricks. It looked like a real quarter, but was cut into three parts and held together by a tiny rubber band. This meant it could be dropped into impossible places and would magically return to its normal shape. Pure magic!

As I think back, it strikes me that the allure of those boxes wasn’t just the impossibly miniature size. It was the very idea of choosing only one little thing to treasure. Just one thing out of all of the possibilities. This might have simply been a particularly shiny rock that I found while walking along the train tracks. It wasn’t special until that moment I decided that it was. It became more than a rock, because my heart chose it, and it was now something priceless. I like this word better as valuable tends to mean things that are worth a great deal of money. But, when it comes to the things that I’ve truly cherished in life, they’ve never been worth much money at all. Indeed, I think my favorite things have always been precious simply because of the stories they bring back to me. Moments in time that are captured in spirit by an everyday object that keeps that narrative alive.

I still have some of those little things that I adored as a child. And each time I see one, that same warm feeling returns. It’s like seeing a friend you haven’t seen in years. You don’t have to be reminded of why you adore them, it’s just something you feel in your soul. Yet, the best thing about seeing those tiny special objects again is the beautiful reminder that it doesn’t take much in life to be truly happy. As it turns out, it’s the stories we create and keep that become the most important pieces of our lives. And we can keep those stories for years just by saving the tiniest of souvenirs. Even just a little sketch. A little thing that creates a giant spark in our hearts. And to this day, I still get a tingling thrill each time I see a tiny antique jewelry box. I immediately begin to imagine what precious thing I might keep there. While there are still wonderful things that are actually worth money in life, I’ll always have the strongest love and appreciation for those magnificent little treasures.

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Antique Jewelry Box Golden Hamster Pearl Watercolor Painting Illustration Sketchbook Detail

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42 thoughts on “Little Treasures

  1. Wonderfully said, Charlie. Very beautiful words and sentiment. 😊 Your hamster is cute and he kinda looks like he was caught red-handed. haha

  2. You walked along the train tracks too?? I did too and made sure my worry wart mother sure never found out about it. I lasted about 20 seconds and guilt made me cross the road back to the sidewalk. Yes my grandma had a tiny little jewel thing and gave it to me. My mother her daughter wanted it when she was little and Nonna said no. I said you want it? Not now, she said. Hehehe Nonnas are special and so are those tiny boxes.

  3. Hammy looks a little surprised. Caught! I think he was hoping there was a nut hiding in the treasure box. I love reading your stories (and your paintings!) Thank you for sharing glimpses into your world.

  4. When we sold my mother’s house, I handed it over to an estate sale company just because I knew I’d want to keep everything, and then I would have to buy another house with room to live in since Mom had a much larger house than mine. Occasionally, I think of something I really wish I still had and regret it, but then I remind myself that it’s the memory itself that is important.

  5. Aweeeeeeeeeeee such a cute little mouse and love the trinket box and pearl!!!! This grabbed me in the heart. I have many trinket boxes and love the special treasures in them. Its cool your family does that also. 🙂

  6. Charlie, my hamster was Henry and he looked just like your painting! Henry loved to escape and wander through my treasures! (At least till he found the trail of sunflower seeds to lure him back into his home!) When I read the prompt I chose treasures from childhood too, marbles and an old jar. No ‘keepsies’ at my childhood marble games! My treasured little orbs are in a jar with assorted rocks, coins, a tiny book, a TV viewfinder, and of course mice wearing clothes. 🙆‍♀️

  7. I always loved little boxes and tiny jars. Really anything small that I could put things in. Still do as a matter of fact. I have to talk myself into getting rid of stuff like that. I do still keep a tiny jar in my bag in case I find something tiny that I need to keep.

  8. He is darling. I love that he is hiding his precious treasure. I love your description of valuable. It is exactly how I feel about my much beloved Raggedy Ann. I did not tell the whole story on IG. Yes it was the last doll my mom bought me for Easter, right before she passed away from an unknown brain aneursym. I was 9. She has moved with me for almost 50 years from Wisconsin to all around Oregon. Priceless, my little rag doll. 😉

  9. Hello Charlie,

    I don’t know if I love the hamster more or the tiny trinket box! I too grew up with a fascination for all things tiny – specially trinket boxes. And yes, they always held an invaluable treasure.. a tiny chip of pretty tile or a piece of glass crystal from some broken chandelier. I still have a box and now it holds a few strips of paper on which I’ve scribbled my dreams in the hope that they come to pass. Those are my treasures. 🙂 I sincerely hope you’ve still got the box your Mom gave you.


    1. Thanks so much, Mugdha! 😃💕 Aww I love that you saved your dreams in a box. That’s wonderful! And my mom still has the box… I tended to lose things so I’ve been getting different little things back on each visit. hehe

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