Little Treasures

Antique Jewelry Box Golden Hamster Pearl Watercolor Painting Illustration

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

Recommended5 recommendationsPublished in By Charlie
  1. Quinn Piper 3 years ago

    Oh gosh, Charlie – my entire childhood was built of such tiny, ordinary, marvelous treasures 🙂 Thanks for making me remember!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      Aww thanks, Quinn! 😃💕 I’m so thrilled you enjoyed this and that it brought back good memories!

  2. Klaus Jochem 3 years ago

    I bet his name is Rocky Rodent. I like this painting. Reminds me of the hamsters my kids had, Thanks for sharing!

  3. Karen Fortier 3 years ago

    Fabulous Charlie! My box of treasures wasn’t as marvelous as this. Being a tomboy my treasures were special rocks, sea shells, marbles and the like.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      Thanks so much, Karen! 😃💕 Those sound like wonderful treasures indeed!

  4. Marisela Delgado 3 years ago

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

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      Thanks so much, Marisela! 😃💕 hehe… yeah, it could be just a hamster burglar!

  5. writerleenda 3 years ago

    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.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      Yes to walking train tracks! Nonnas are indeed special! And so are those tiny boxes! 😃💕

  6. Susan Cuss 3 years ago

    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.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      Thanks so much, Susan! 😃💕 Yeah, this one has been fun to see what people see there! hehe

  7. Sandra Strait 3 years ago

    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.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      Yes, the memory itself is always the most important thing! 😃💕

  8. Fascinante, Charlie, me gusto los colores, además me trae recuerdo de las cajitas que aun tiene mi mamá llenas de cositas.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      Muchas gracias, Eduardo! 😃💕 So happy this brought back good memories!

  9. Priscilla DeConti 3 years ago

    What a wonderful little sketch! Your little hamster is adorable and love the pearl he found! It is the little treasures we keep that are most meaningful !! Again thanks for sharing!😊

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      Thanks so much, Priscilla! 😃💕 Glad you liked this little hamster and yay for those little treasures!

  10. Lisa Ann Ulibarri 3 years ago

    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. 🙂

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      Thanks so much, Lisa! 😃💕 So happy you connected with this one… those trinket boxes are so wonderful!

  11. Nellie Nellie 3 years ago

    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. 🙆‍♀️

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      Aww those sound like wonderful little treasures indeed, Nellie! 😃💕 And Henry sounds like a grand explorer! hehe

  12. Susan Masters 3 years ago

    Live the wonderful sketch andThank you for reminding us of the joy we take in priceless objects and people

  13. Lisa 3 years ago

    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.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      Aww that’s awesome you keep a tiny jar at the ready. Yeah… I can’t go near those little boxes in an antique store or I’d take them all home! hehe 😉

  14. LoriCtoo 3 years ago

    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. 😉

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      Thanks so much, Lori! 😃💕 Oh wow, that little rag doll is beyond priceless. What a beautiful memory to have of your mother.

  15. Viki Banaszak 3 years ago

    This is adorable!

  16. Gary Middleton 3 years ago

    Ha ha, a fun doodle Charlie. My mum collects little boxes. We bought out granddaughter a box with a fretwork lid for her collection of polished stones.

  17. Loan Anh Pham 3 years ago

    I love this painting, Charlie❤️

  18. heila 3 years ago


  19. Zertab Quaderi 3 years ago

    I think this is my favourite sketch so far. You’ve captured all the emotions and reflections here so well!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      Aww thanks so much, Zertab! 😃💕 I think this one is one of my personal faves so far as well. Glad you enjoyed it!

  20. Mugdha 3 years ago

    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.


    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      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

  21. Mary Roff 3 years ago

    All of your posts are wonderful but this is one of the best…words and painting!!😍

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      Aww thanks so much, Mary! 😃💕 So happy you enjoyed this one!

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