The story of the modest crate, now being called a national treasure, begins here in Boston on December 16, 1773, the night the uprising known as the Boston Tea Party took place. After Samuel Adams and his Sons of Liberty wreaked havoc on the tea shipment of the British-backed East India Company, the beaches along Boston Harbor were strewn with the refuse of the previous night’s protest. Despite knowledge that the possession of any evidence would be considered an act of treason to the British, a young John Robinson of Dorchester hid a discarded tea chest under his coat and brought it home to his family as a souvenir of the event that would go on to spark the American Revolution.
Nearly two centuries later, in what reads like an episode of “Antiques Road Show, ” the box—which served as everything from a game board to a doll chest over the years—was found in the home of Robinson’s descendants, the Goodman family of Laredo, Texas. Now known as the Robinson Half Chest, it was purchased by Historic Tours of America (for an undisclosed price) and will eventually be on display as part of a rebuilt museum honoring the Boston Tea Party. Despite the fact that hundreds of these boxes were dumped into the harbor that night in 1773, the Robinson chest is one of only two known to exist and has had several interested buyers over the years (even Lipton Tea!). Fortunately for Boston, it’s found its way home.