eBay find: Knights at Chawton photo album

January 12, 2019 at 10:42 am (history, jane austen, news) (, , , )

A friend whom I just visited before the New Year sent a link to a Daily Mail article. An EXTRAORDINARY find, indeed!

News coming out of Ireland, where Edward Austen Knight’s daughters settled after marriage, concerns an eBay purchase of a Victorian photo album – bought for the research potential, by Karen Ievers.

Readers of Sophia Hillan‘s biography, May, Lou & Cass: Jane Austen’s Nieces in Ireland, will be familiar with the cast of characters whom Ievers has uncovered in these 19th century images. It also shows that publication can later bring important related material to light (though evidently NOT providing an inkling to the seller).

jas brother

There is even a later-in-life photograph of Fanny Knight (Lady Knatchbull), as well as a host of the next generation – including a wedding at Chawton House!

I’ve written about the GOSLING link to the Hill family via JAMES CRUMP in this blog post.

More can be read about Edward Austen Knight and Chawton in Linda Slothouber’s book:

JA-EAK-Chawton

UPDATE:

It is likely the “manuscript pages” with the watermark were paper for letterwriting, used, and bound up with the photographs. For a book on Papermaking in Britain: A Short History, 1488-1988.

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eBay: Free Fronts

April 7, 2013 at 1:28 pm (diaries, europe, history, jane austen, people, research) (, , , , , , , , )

My! just when you think that searching eBay for ‘entire letters’ is hard, comes the realization that there is a thing called Free Front. Namely, these are the remains (no other name for it) of a letter. The “letter” (as in ‘entire’) is not extant; the “cover” – a free-standing sheet of paper used to wrap the pre-stamp era letter (and may by what the free front represents; keep reading*) has been cut so that the address panel alone exists.

*NB: the address panel could be that of a folded letter – would depend: if writing is present on the backside then the address was most likely applied to a section left blank for that purpose, and the paper folded and sealed so that the address showed. This Jane Austen letter shows what I mean:

austen envelope

You can see the writing on the other side of the paper; the red seal still exists and this view shows the part of the lower page has been taken for more of the letter (typically, there will be two other ‘letter continuations’ to the left and right of the address). You can see more Austen Letters at the Morgan Library’s website. Want Austen facsimiles to keep? Find a copy of Jo Modert’s book!

I digress…

In short, for my purposes I’d kill to find another (my “only” letter was purchased thanks to Craig in Australia alerting me!) Autograph Letter Signed, or ALS, also known as ‘entire’ letter. A cover is nice – but at the same time: no letter (boo…). So who knew such ‘trimmed’ specimens existed too.

NB: I am grateful to ALL who contact me,
whether you have a cover or entire letter
just happy to transcribe contents or addresses

The hard part is, I’m not looking for postal marks, I don’t collect certain counties or places; I want INFORMATION! I want chatty letters. EBay does not make this easy. Few listings comment on the sender / recipient. And I do not have the patience to open and look and try to decipher EVERY friggin address.

Which brings me to today’s post.

Gosh! some of these people have HORRIBLE handwriting!

I’m talking the address, NOT the ‘autograph’. Ah, which reminds me to tell you what a Free Front is.

A FRANK you are probably familiar with; members of parliament could send mail — franked (ie, they made out the envelope and “signed” it) — free of charge to the recipient. This was supposedly used ONLY for parliamentary business. Even Jane Austen writes Cassandra Austen about her ability (or inability) to secure a Frank. So the letters could very well BE those chatty ones I’m dying to find more of! (So you see my dilemma… where are the letters?? pitched or just somewhere else — with a big hole!)

To quote: “Free franks were avidly sought during the first three decades of the nineteenth century for autograph collections. This was accomplished by cutting out the front panels of the envelope which carried the inscriptions which were required under the use of this privilege. These panels are referred to by collectors as free fronts.”

Must say, when there are ‘entire’ letters listed on eBay, so many prove to be letters of business: to merchants of wine or books; or the family solicitor. But even those are not Smith&Gosling letters of business. That’s why I’m so grateful to people like Antony in Essex – he contacted me and sent scans of his Eliza Chute letters, which left me wanting more.

BTW, Jane Austen’s brother Frank Austen gifted collectors interested in the autograph of his sister with a signature trimmed out of a letter from her to him. Ohhhh…. (read that as a big GROAN!). Why not the entire letter?! I have a feeling ome of those snipped-out pieces may be all that has come down to us of some letters.

I am reminded that I had thoughts to pass along to reader of TWO TEENS IN THE TIME OF AUSTEN regarding the letter-writing notations noticed in the 1830s diaries of Mamma Smith, which I’ve been proofing and reading this weekend; so hope to follow up with a part II, but I leave you with two images found on eBay today.

free front1

free front2

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Sarah Smith – wife of Joshua Smith of Erle Stoke Park, Wilts

September 7, 2012 at 9:59 pm (a day in the life, chutes of the vyne, history, news, people, portraits and paintings) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I wish I had a picture of Sarah, Mrs Joshua Smith, to share. Alas, the one citation I have of a miniature of her — by Anne Mee — came with NO illustration!

So, to illustrate this lengthy obituary of Sarah, I include this illustration of Stoke Park, where she died. The write-up comes from The Monthly Magazine and British Register, 1810:

“At Stoke Park, near Devizes, Mrs Smith, the lady of Joshua Smith, esq. one of the representatives in parliament for that borough. She was the daughter, by a second wife, of Nathaniel Gilbert, of the island of Antigua, sequire [sic], a gentleman of large landed property there, and chief legal magistrate of the island, the maternal sister of the late lady Colebrooke, and mother of the present lady Northampton. Through life, this lady was conspicuous not only for great good sense and very amiable manners, but also for the great sincerity of her attachments; a sincerity which was the result of affection, principle, and benevolence, alone. In an age in which the woman of fashion too frequently affects the most extravagant degree of moral sentiment, the purity of her conduct expressed the innate worth and value of her mind; and while her charitable heart was ever ready to mitigate distress, the delicacy of her pecuniary favours never wounded the feelings of those, whom her bounty so liberally relieved. Though handsome in her youth, she was totally free from vanity and affectation; her charity, though exerted on the precepts of the divine word, in secrecy and silence, was not confined merely to alms, but manifested by a liberal and charitable opinion of the conduct of all. So far was she from uttering scandal of any one that she did not even think it; and as to pride, if it resided in her, it was of that decent kind which preserved her within the bounds of virtue and propriety. Thus beloved and revered for three generations, in consequence of a debility of body produced by an arthritic complaint, she expired at the end of her sixty-second year, when threatened with a total loss of sight, leaving her inconsolable husband, children, and other connections, the example of a woman, illustrious in every social department of life. Her remains were conveyed for interment to the family vault at Lambeth.”

[Curious mistake: the Lady Colebrooke, who was half-sister to Mrs. Joshua Smith, died in 1818 – eight years later.]

*

Sarah Smith of Erle Stoke Park lives on in letters, especially those to her daughter Eliza Chute of The Vyne, now housed at the Hampshire Record Office, Winchester, England. Eliza, in 1793, was newly married, and frequent correspondence passed between the two households.

A plea to anyone coming across letters of the 1790s: This important decade connects the Smiths & Goslings together in the “parent generation” – not only is Sarah Smith writing to Eliza and William Chute, she also writes of the newly-married pair William and Eliza GOSLING. Eliza Chute, as well, writes of her life — at The Vyne, at Roehampton Grove (the Gosling home), at Richmond — to her sisters Emma Smith (at Stoke); Augusta Smith (at Suttons, in Essex); Maria, Lady Compton (later: Lady Northampton = Marchioness of Northampton). Please contact me (see about the author for contact information) if you have letters to share!

  • Just bought a letter from eBay, for instance, and
  • its contents point to the people in this blog??
  • Contact me; I’d LOVE to hear from you!

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eBaying letters

November 14, 2010 at 10:42 am (news) (, , , , , , )

Craig in Australia has long encouraged me to search for family correspondence on eBay; he has found some amazing family items! But his last name is a bit unusual. What name do I search for?? SMITH! Yow…

(Even Gosling has its problems — thanks to people like actor Ryan Gosling; but the main hinderance is that letters for sale are less for their content — writer and recipient included — than for their postmarks. I simply don’t have the patience! So, readers, should you find anything of use to me, please let me know! I appreciate Craig’s pointing out some Alexander Davison letters; the slightly unusual spelling — Davison rather than Davidson — rather saves the day with that family.)

But I thought to mention here this exceptional find, which ran in my local paper (among others, for the link is to the Times Herald in Pennsylvania): the letters of a Civil War Soldier, Alfred Covell Woods. The amazing story of what has been happening now is actually a fairly local story: Crown Point, NY is just across Lake Champlain from where I live.

What interests me, as readers may guess, is the story of his service told in letters home — as well, how these letters were reamassed (at least online) from the many purchasers among whom the items were distributed.

I’ll let the newspaper article tell the story; the link to the letter transcriptions can be found here, and don’t forget to notice the eBay pricing… This news article, from Syracuse, has the same info, but a couple great pictures, including the cover of the diary.

Woods’ diary is also online; see this link (from 2007!) about the transcriptions; the diary from 1861 can be found here – and check out the PICTURES! This, too, was once up for eBay bid.

Plattsburgh’s Press Republican ran the ‘after-story’: November 7‘s marker ceremony.

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Cause for Celebration

July 4, 2010 at 9:07 pm (research) (, , , , , )

Craig from Australia alerted me to the sale of this book on eBay — one (from the signature) once in the library of Charles Cunliffe Smith, the son of Mary and Charles Smith of Suttons!

Craig has given me a couple reasons to smile this week, including the following story (reprinted with his kind permission):

“I will explain what happened after you passed on that other email in February. 
 
My grandfather used to tell us stories about how his cousin had come to Melbourne and stayed with he and his family in the 1930s. He would tell us she was a dancer with the Russian ballet. We used to roll our eyes a bit and think it was like one of grandpa’s stories that was being made up as it went along. 
 
I nearly fell off my chair when the woman who sent the email asked if any of my family had met her aunt when she was in Australia dancing with the Russian ballet. So it all made sense.
 
When my grandfather’s great grandfather died in the 1880s all the documents etc ended up being passed down to he and his brothers, and all the photos passed to this woman’s grandmother. Before my grandfather died he gave me all the papers he had relating to our family. It used to be difficult trying to find a lot of information before the internet, but it is a lot easier these days. So I have just been plodding along with this on my own for the past 12 years.
 
The woman who sent the email (and is actually my cousin) and I copied and exchanged everything we both had. So now I have scans of the early family photos from the 1850s through to the 1890s, and she now has copies of all the documents from the 1500s through to 1900.”
What a heartwarming story — for a couple reasons. One, of course, is the reuniting of a “family archive”; how I’d love to be able to do that with the Smiths and Goslings! And Two has got to be a cheer for the power of the internet: I’ve “met” so many terrific people, with such varied interests, who have given advice, help, and friendship. Indeed some great reasons for celebrations, on this 4th of July, 2010

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