Sunday, May 18, 2003

Prize possessions

Collector's box score 1,000 and counting

By Marsie Hall Newbold
Enquirer contributor

Who: Leslie Maret, 54, of Westwood, a retired electrical maintenance professional with a passion for wooden boxes.

On display: Eight hundred boxes from all over the world. (He owns more than 1,000, but doesn't have room to display them all.)

Where: Exhibited on shelves in the living room of the apartment he shares with his son, Tom, 21.

In the beginning: Maret began collecting wooden boxes 16 years ago by chance.

"I walked into a thrift shop and this box caught my eye," he recalls. "It was from Russia and so beautifully detailed that I had to have it. I paid $25 for it."

A family affair: Since then he was been haunting yard sales, flea markets and antiques sales. Tom has joined his father's quest.

Lovely to look at: "To really appreciate them," the elder Maret says, "you have to see them. To me, it is a new art form. The diversity of craftsmanship is just amazing. And the species of wood are absolutely beautiful. . . ."

Soup to nuts: Maret's collection includes shoeshine boxes from eight different companies, stamp boxes, 300 music boxes, a portable bar and a glove box. He also owns cigar boxes, an 1850s cash box from a general store, cigarette boxes, wooden purses, a theater ticket box and a Procter & Gamble box from the 1940s.

Future plans: Maret's goal is to share his collection with the public. He has begun contacting museums and galleries.

"These boxes are a strong history of our culture," he says, "and I want to make certain that they are preserved for generations to come."

Share your prize possessions with Marsie Hall Newbold by mail: c/o The Enquirer, 312 Elm St., Cincinnati, 45202; e-mail: Please include a daytime, weekday telephone number.

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