Rediscoveries – old item newly found

October 9, 2010 at 11:40 am (news, people) (, , , , , , , , , )


One newspaper article that recently grabbed headlines concerned a piece of FABRIC long kept at the Coolidge Museum in Plymouth, Vermont. Why was it news? Why is Kelly blogging about it? Read the article for yourself (from The Burlington Free Press):

PLYMOUTH NOTCH — Researchers at the Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site in Plymouth are learning new details about the night he became the 30th president of the United States  at his father’s Vermont home.
 
Historic-site officials were cataloging artifacts recently when a handwritten note by Grace Coolidge fluttered out of what had been believed to be a shawl.

It turns out the brown and white linen was the table covering in place on the night of Aug. 3, 1923, when Coolidge was sworn in by his father following the sudden death of President Warren Harding.

The note read: “Cover which was on the mahogany-topped table in the sitting room of father Coolidge’s house in Plymouth, Vermont on the night of August 3rd, 1923” and was initialed “G.C.,” said Amy Mincher, a collections manager at the site.

It had been thought that a green tablecloth with an embroidered border had been on the table that night.

The research was funded by the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services. The money allowed the site to hire Mincher to inventory and catalog the site’s holdings.

“Although many of the objects have been in the collection for several decades, this thorough analysis has yielded some important discoveries,” she said. Some 5,200 objects have been catalogued, according to the site.
 
My incredulity comes from the fact that this was owned by the museum, but never “investigated”; had the piece been mine, I would have known every inch of it, and found the note long, long ago!
 
Can you imagine coming across something of the Goslings, the Smiths like that? Some ‘artifact’ that a family member touched, wore, or owned. I’ve come across a few hints lately, and even a couple pieces with family connections and will augment this blog post in the next day or two, when I’ve a moment. Right now the sun is shining (a rare occurrence lately!) and I want to get out, maybe go book-looking.
In the meantime, read up about Grace Coolidge at the First Ladies website.
Here also is a link to the Coolidge site’s page on Grace Coolidge, and her letters. Must admit to having read a recent article on Grace and her correspondence with a friend she did not meet in person (for some years) in Victoria magazine that spurred on this idea of corresponding.
See some letters listed here.
 
* * *

So what items out there, besides portraits of course, have been found to have once been owned by the Goslings and Smiths; what items might have been alluded to, in letters or diaries (LOTS!).

A recent item that came to my attention is one that was gifted by Mary’s eldest brother William Ellis to his Oxford college, Brasenose. This was found in the 2004 book, A Treasured Inheritance: 600 Years of Oxford College Silver by Helen Clifford:

Writing about the Oxford days of William and his younger brother Robert, I find it curious that William attended Oxford, but seems never to have taken his degree. Am investigating why that might have been the case!

Anyway, was this a parting gift? He matriculated in 1812 (aged 17), was still at Brasenose when the family visited campus in summer 1814. By 14 July 1815, he would have obtained his majority, and perhaps left school to work in the family banking business. That I know so much about William, and yet so little, is very annoying.

He was obviously a passionate collector of art; not only had he commissioned portraits of his dogs, he owned other pieces — like this engraving of  The Widow, also be Edwin Landseer:

William Ellis Gosling also endowed schools, left money (in his will) to colleges and universities, and even for the organ of St. Dunstan’s in the West.

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