Curious Objects: Mystery Box

Benjamin Miller Curious Objects

Bright young antiques dealers Pippa Biddle and Benjamin Davidson come on the pod to talk treasure—specifically, a homely wooden box that punches above its weight, thanks to its curious Revolutionary War provenance and a Herman Melville connection. Also—music to the ears during this holiday season—the pair sings the praises of untrammeled accumulation as an interior design strategy.

The 250-year-old box with a Revolutionary War secret inside. Photograph by Benjamin Davidson.
The 1726 Ridgely House in Dover, Delaware, in a photograph after 1933. Library of Congress, Washington, DC, Prints and Photographs Division, Historic American Buildings Survey.

Benjamin Davidson and Pippa Biddle in front of the Eden Hill Homestead, a 120-year-old orchard, house, and outbuildings in Germantown, New York, that the couple is restoring. Photograph courtesy of Pippa Biddle and Benjamin Davidson.

Benjamin Davidson is co-founder of Quittner Antiques in Germantown, New York. Ben first learned woodworking, furniture repair, and historic restoration techniques while serving as the live-in caretaker of the Thunderbird Lodge, a historic mansion in Rose Valley, Pennsylvania. He previously pursued medieval and renaissance studies at Keble College, Oxford, and co-writes the Object Lesson column for The Magazine ANTIQUES with his wife, Pippa Biddle. 

Pippa Biddle is co-founder of Quittner. When not managing the online store and its social media presence, Pippa works as a writer. Her work has been published by the Atlantic, Wired, BBC Travel, and more, and she co-writes the Object Lesson column for The Magazine ANTIQUES alongside her husband, Ben Davidson. She is a graduate of Columbia University with a degree in creative writing, and her first book will be released by Potomac Books in June 2021.