From “The Secret Regions of the Stage”, by Olive Logan, originally published in 1874.
The property-room of the theatre is a quaint and curious place. Here are kept the innumerable miscellaneous objects used on the stage, from the phial of poison which the apothecary selects from his beggarly array of empty boxes and sells to Romeo, to the banquet with which Macbeth regales his guests, and which the ghost of Banquo so unceremoniously interrupts. Purses full of tin coin; letters blank and letters written for certain pieces; kingly crowns; fairy wands: soldiers’ helmets, pistols, swords; pasteboard fowls, legs of mutton, and fruit â€” every thing, in fact, which is used on the stage, except scenery, costumes, and sets of furniture, is kept in the property-room. So motley an array is here, one wonders how the presiding genius of the place, the property-man, can remember where he puts things, and how he finds room for them when he does remember. A natural wonder, too, is that numbers of his articles do not get lost, being in nightly use, and passing, by the action of the play, through many hands. But a rule of the stage exacts a fine from any player who, being the last to use a “property,” fails to return it to the property-man, from whose hands it is nightly received by him who first uses it. Thus the ring which Juliet hands the nurse, with the injunction: