Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives, Anonymous Gift
Paper knives like this one were common equipment for 19th-century desktops. The smooth, curved edges made a clean slice through a folded piece of paper, and the flat sides served as an ideal spot for ornamentation. Mauchline ware such as this was made of close-grained sycamore wood coated in varnish, which allowed manufacturers to decorate them with detailed prints of famous landmarks. In this case, a tourist to Washington could bring home a reminder of both the Capitol and the White House.