Dressing case with silver-mounted fittings
Leather, silk; glass, silver
Case: 6 1/2 x 22 x 13 in. (16.5 x 55.9 x 33 cm)
Silk-lined interior fitted with 17 silver and silver-mounted dressing implements a: octagonal shaped glass cylinder with silver lid, initials "WS" engraved on top b: octagonal shaped glass cylinder with smaller-sized silver lid, starburst on bottom, initials engraved on top c: small glass container, shaped-like salt shaker, with silver lid with eyelet cut outs and initials on top d: silver needle-hook, initials on handle e: short glass containter with silver lid, initials on top f: silver shoehorn, initials on handle g: silver nail file, initials on handle h and i: palm paddle brush, silver and boar bristle, initials on top j: narrow paddle brush k: miniature tool kit (?) l: oval shaped containter with silver lid, initials on top m:slender glass tube with starburst on bottom, silver lid with initials n: hand-held twist boar bristle brush, silver o:silver tube container p: oval-shaped silver tube q: folding, stand-up mirror r: leather case with handle, clasping locks, and two attached keys
This dressing case belonged to Dr. William I. Sirovich (1882-1939), a United States Congress Representative from New York (Fourteenth District) from 1927 until his death in 1939. The son of a rabbi, Sirovich was raised on the Lower East Side and attended City College and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University. Although he worked as a physician, the multi-talented Sirovich also wrote plays and poetry and dabbled in patent affairs. A liberal Democrat, Sirovich was noted as an outstanding figure in Congress. In May, 1937, he gave an hour-long speech in the House attacking Hitler, labeling him a "tyrant" and a "paranoic." Sirovich campaigned for a national department of fine arts to be administered by an appointed Cabinet officer and championed the WPA theatre project. At the age of 57, while still serving in Congress, he died suddenly of a heart attack. Sirovich may have packed his clothes in this case for his weekly train commute down to Washington, D.C., or he may have used it to complement a full set of luggage on extended travels. Sirovich crossed the Atlantic at least once, taking the Queen Mary in August 1937. During the 1930s, leather dressing cases such as this were advertised as "All I want until the luggage arrives." The case is fitted with seventeen accessories, including various glass bottles with silver tops, a buttonhook, shoehorn, nail file, clothes and hair brushes, a compact with razor, and a mirror. Nearly all of the accessories are engraved with the Sirovich's initials, "WS." The distinguished French jewelry firm Cartier was founded in Paris in 1847. By 1902 they had opened a branch in London, and in 1909 Pierre Cartier established the New York City branch. The firm moved to its current location at 653 Fifth Avenue (at 52nd Street) in 1917.
Gift of Edythe Kenner Estate
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.