Posts Tagged ‘Exhibit Highlight’

Exhibit Highlight: Stockings

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Sometimes, history can seem like one huge mystery. Each fact is tied into a complex web, each artifact a clue. Sometimes, you can be confronted by a puzzling artifact, you can find clues about it, but have it still seem mysterious. Personally, I enjoy the objects that I know the least about, I find them fascinating and I love to discover as much as I can. This week’s Exhibit Highlight made me work for the information, but I loved every minute.


Object 1983.116.3ab

Though the Common Indecency Exhibit is not on display at the Historical Society currently, there are many wonderful objects we have yet to shed light on. The Exhibit Highlight this week is a pair of stockings, made of white cotton knit with a lacy pattern of stripes down the leg and foot. Knit into the tops of the stockings are the mysterious initials “J.R.D.” Who is this woman who wore the fashionable stockings?

Richard Chapell donated the stockings to the Historical Society in 1983. Born in 1928, Richard was a long time Andover business owner, and a board member of multiple committees and business boards. He was also part of the Andover Senior Center. Richard owned Andover Photo on Barnard Street, which he took over in 1978. He was born in West Hartford, CT, graduated from Williams College, and the Stamford Business School, and served in the army.

Someone in Richard’s family must have worn the stockings, but that is a fact that was lost in the web of time and information. For now, we can only wonder and continue to search for answers in the archives and books of the Historical Society.


Exhibit Highlight: Stomacher

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

This week’s Exhibit Highlight of the Week was a piece I have been curious about for a long time. Here at the Historical Society, it is common to come across things that are totally alien to you, or even objects that you have never heard of before. It is always interesting to do a little searching and discover what these objects, sometimes ridiculous sounding, actually do. This week is no exception.

When I heard the world Stomacher, I knew I had to find out more. This week’s Exhibit Highlihgt is a stomacher, one of the more interesting names of anything I have ever seen. Stomachers were decorative pieces of fabric worn by ladies on the front of dresses. Triangular in shape, they were worn to cover up the front of corsets, and to make the front of the dress more eye popping. Stomachers ranged from practical to purely decorative, with some ribbed to act like corsets, and some which resembled jewelry due to an excess of beads and bows.

The stomacher in question is made up of various colors of green silk in a V-shape with rust colored linen alongside, and decorative yellow trim and stitching. There are tabs on the sides, and the stomacher is attached to a dress using the tabs, while busk casing may also be added. Before you run away at the large amount of dressing vocabulary, a busk is a piece of a women’s corset which runs down the center, and busk casing goes on top. Don’t worry, no one will be testing you on this later.

Stomachers were worn by both men and women in the 15th and 16th century on top of open fronted doublets and gowns. Stomachers continued to go in and out of fashion in the following centuries, and the stomacher on display is from circa 1760. Stomachers were used widely in both North America and Europe. The stomacher was donated to the Historical Society in 1921 by a Mrs. Todd. Stomacher, busk, busk casing, corset. Say that five times fast.


Exhibit Highlight: Satin Slippers

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

Every girl loves to buy shoes. We may not seem crazy on the outside, but confronted with a fun shoe or slipper, we may giggle erratically or jump in the air. Shoes have always been important to people, and finding interesting old shoes can be exciting. This week’s Exhibit Highlight is an example of a beautiful old shoe that some lucky woman once wore.

On display in the Common Indecency Exhibit  is a lovely pair of white satin slippers, donated to the Historical Society in 1915 by Agnes Park. Agnes was an important member of the Andover community, and she lived from 1845-1922. Mrs. Park was from a long line of Park family members, who first settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts c. 1595.

Agnes held many positions over the years in Andover, including helping out at the Historical Society, where she was the first official secretary. She was also the secretary for the Abbot Academy Alumnae Association for over forty years, and had other duties including Chair of the Advisory Committee and an active member of the school committee. Agnes was born in Andover at the family home at 173 Main Street, as the daughter of an eminent scholar of the Andover Theological Seminary, Professor Park. She was always a help to the town and loved being involved with the Historical Society.

The slippers are delicate and well preserved, and well as being stunning to look at. Agnes probably spent many evenings dancing in them, and they are a wonderful addition to the collection.



Exhibit Highlight: Bohemian Glass

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

If you look through this week’s Exhibit Highlight, the world will become a haze of ruby. If you look at this week’s Exhibit Highlight, your mouth will drop open slightly and you will dream of warm summer nights and wine or cool lemonade. The Exhibit Highlight for this week is a beautiful collection of wine glasses, and a matching carafe with stopper. The collection is two wine glasses, each made of red glass and decorated with a delicate pattern of grapes and leaves, with a ring on the stem and standing about eleven centimeters high. The carafe has a similar grape pattern, with a glass stopper and the pattern cut into it. They are made of Bohemian glass, hugely popular in the 1800’s before sinking into obscurity as other glass techniques were created.


Objects 1960.022.1, 1960.023.1, and 1960.026.1ab

The pieces of the week were donated to the Andover Historical Society in 1960 with a large collection of glassware by Priscilla Blackhouse Wilkinson. The pieces are from circa 1885. As mentioned earlier, the wine glasses and carafe are made of Bohemian glass. Bohemia was a large part of central Europe including the Czech Republic and several other countries. The glass made in the area known as Bohemia was famous in the 1800’s, but by 1890 it had died out as other glass from around the world became popular. People in Bohemia made glass before the nineteenth century, but it was in the early 1800’s they began to make good quality colored glass products, including vases and glasses.

Bohemian pieces were famous for their color, mostly ruby and sometimes blue or green. Ruby refers to a deep red color, of which the pieces on display at the Historical Society are a good example. They also included wonderful cut patterns on their pieces, and their pieces quickly spread across Europe and around the world. At first, colored glass and the effort to make it were very expensive, but eventually a new technique was discovered in which a clear layer of glass was covered in a thin layer of color, making it less expensive.

The pieces on display now are worth taking a look at, and if you look closely, you can see how good the workmanship is and why this style of glass was so universally popular in the 1800’s.


Exhibit Highlight: Children’s Dress

Thursday, April 5th, 2012


Hidden in one of the upstairs bedrooms of the Andover Historical Society is an exquisite children’s nightgown which is part of the current exhibit, “Common Indecency.” This is one of several pieces of children’s clothing at the Historical Society, but it is one of the most beautiful. Made of white cotton with real lace trim, it would have been one little girl’s dream nightgown, and it is our Exhibit Highlight this week.


Close Up of the Neckline

The nightgown is made of white cotton, and it is full length with from tie closure with long sleeves. There is fine lace trim decorating the neck and sleeves, and a high lace waistband. Also added are several ruffles in the skirt and at the shoulders. This handmade piece of clothing was donated to the Andover Historical Society in 1940 by Mr. William A. Trow, who was born in 1868 and died at the age of eighty-one in 1949. Mr. Trow was married to Miss Florence Gardner, and they had an adopted daughter named Charlotte, who married in 1947 and became Mrs. Charlotte Bowes Trow Young.


Object 1940.122.1

William Trow was an integral part of the community, and served the town of Andover in many different ways. He graduated from Punchard High School, and went on to be part of the Punchard School Board of Trustees. He was a member of the Andover School Committee, and was even a president of the Andover Historical Society from 1936-1947. Mr. Trow enjoyed collecting historical notes, and there is a William A. Trow collection at the Historical Society today, containing mostly information on the Samuel Phillips family during the Revolutionary War.

The nightgown on exhibit now is a beautiful example of children’s nightwear, and how elegant it used to be. I know that as a small child, I would have loved to wear something  like that to bed. I bet the child that was that lucky had magical dreams.


Exhibit Highlight: Children’s Cup

Monday, March 26th, 2012

As a young child, I had many memorable plastic plates and juice cups that were special to me. I will probably never forget the rainbow fish plate or the cup with the crazy straw that squiggled around the outside so you could watch the liquid flow up when you took a sip. The things you eat and drink out of are a big part of your life. They are three meals a day, snacks and drinks at odd hours, and just another thing you remember about being small. This week’s Exhibit Highlight is a childhood memento, and I am sure it was special to someone.

Object 1940.122.1


The object this week is a small children’s mug, made from porcelain and white stoneware. It is glazed, and decorated with delicate red and blue flowers, as well as gold bands and leaves. The cup has eleven sides and an applied loop handle. On the front is a gold message, “Reward of Diligence.” Perhaps the child received this as a gift after learning something particularly hard or enduring.

The mug was donated to the Historical Society in 1957 by the Estate of Rose Robinson Alden (Mrs. John Alden). Rose was born in 1860 and died in 1950 at the age of ninety. She was a long time member of the Andover Historical Society, and left money to the society when she passed away. In fact, her father, Henry S. Robinson, lived in the house that is now the Andover Historical Society for a time before he died, when his wife passed the house over to her sister Caroline M. Underhill. Rose probably visited the house often while her father was alive, and after.

Rose’s husband, Mr. John Alden, also had many interesting stories. He was descended from another John Alden, one of the original pilgrims to sail over on the Mayflower. In fact, John Alden the pilgrim was one of the signers of the famous Mayflower “compact.” Rose’s husband was born in 1856, and lived until 1916. He was the chief chemist for the Pacific Mills in Lawrence, and was an honored and trusted part of the community. He served on school boards and building committees, and was a trustee of Memorial Hall Library. He was also the clerk of the trustees of Abbot Academy. The couple married in 1883. John Alden the pilgrim and John Alden the chemist, in a strange coincidence, both married women named Rose.

The beautiful children’s mug on exhibit now is a wonderful reminder of childhood. In some year a long time ago, a child was given a present for being diligent, and, judging from the chips in the rim, the child probably loved the cup dearly.


Exhibit Highlight: Powder Puff

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

In our image obsessed culture, you can hardly walk into a pharmacy without seeing hundreds of varieties of blush, nail polish, lip stick, and other make up related products invented to make people more beautiful. Makeup is not a new thing. For hundreds of years, women have pinched their cheeks and primped their hair in an attempt to be more glamorous. This week’s Exhibit Highlight, from the late 1800’s, is no exception.


Object 1948.025.1 a, b, and c

On display now at the Andover Historical Society is a fancy little powder puff, donated by Miss Esther W. Smith in 1948. The puff itself is a fluffy little thing made of down, with a purple fabric knob. It fits perfectly into its round wooden box, which has a screw on lid. The top of the box has an inlaid mother-of-pearl disc on the center, and the underside of the box is labeled with “Osborne, Bauer, & Cheeseman, 10 Golded Square, London. 3 Feathers, trademark PERFUMES from the late R. Hendie.”

Now, according to the label, this powder puff was made in London by a company called Osborne, Bauer, and Cheeseman. Looking into the company, we discovered that it was actually a famous British perfume maker in the late 1800’s. Osborne, Bauer, and Cheeseman were founded in 1863, and is said to have been disbanded in 1886. There are other whispers of the company after 1886, so it is possible that another company took on their name or they did not formally disband at that time.

The three men of Osborne, Bauer, and Cheeseman were formerly under the employ of Robert Hendrie, who influenced them greatly. When the three started their own company, they continued to put his name on their products, such as the “R. Hendrie” on this powder puff. After doing this for several years, they were taken to court over the matter, and eventually were forced to take his name off their work. The business sold perfumes, healing jellies, powder puffs, pumice stones, and soap, and there is a rumor that they provided perfume for Queen Victoria herself.

This powder puff was probably a wonderful, foreign gift to whatever lucky young woman used it. Who wouldn’t want a powder puff from a company who delivered perfume to the queen of England?


Exhibit Highlight: American Painting

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

American art has seen its ups and downs. We have copied the art of other countries around the world, and sometimes given the impression that we are several steps behind other artistic heavyweights, but we have also stunned the world with our creativity and unique style. This week’s Exhibit Highlight for the “Common Indecency” exhibit is purely American, the result of a style of art created and used by Americans.

On display now is an exquisite oil painting donated to the Andover Historical Society in November 1982 by Constantine Tsaousis. The painting is of a landscape and the subject, located in the foreground, is a man riding a workhorse. The setting is picturesque-a pretty stream running past a mill and alongside a dirt road, with hazy mountains in the distance and a sailboat in the water. The painter used oil paint on canvas, and the canvas was placed in a simple gold colored frame which measures 47 centimeters by 62 centimeters.


Object 1982.054.1

The painting currently in the exhibit is by an unknown American artist, not signed, and was painted circa 1870, five years after the end of the Civil War. When the previous owner bought it in Maine and had it appraised, the appraiser referred to it as “Man on White Workhorse near a Mississippi Dam.” We have no way to prove it was set in Mississippi, but there is a chance that it was.

At the time this picture was painted, the art world was going through many changes. While our unknown artist was painting in America, impressionism was being hailed in Paris as the next huge movement of art. In 1870, impressionism had spread past Paris, and was beginning to circulate around Europe. Before the turn of the century, the impressionistic style was wildly popular around the world.

This painting is definitely not an impressionistic painting. So what is it? The painting on display now is a wonderful example of an American style of painting known as “luminism.” Luminism is a form of painting that was painted mostly from the 1850’s-1870’s. The style of painting was characterized by the effects of light used in landscapes, the attention to detail, and the way luminist painters hid brush strokes to create a soft and clear picture. Luminist paintings emphasized tranquility, and often included calm, reflective water and soft, hazy skies. The painting here at the Andover Historical Society has all those qualities, and more.

The painting in the exhibit now is special. It exemplifies an American style of painting, and provides a lovely and peaceful landscape for viewers to enjoy. Although we do not know the painter, we thank him for creating this piece with the soft skies and clear water. Take a moment to look at the picture in this post, and maybe come to the Historical Society to see for yourself. It is certainly worth the visit.


Exhibit Highlight: Stuffed Dog

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

Everyone had someone special when they were a young child. Perhaps it was a precious teddy bear, special blanket, or a doll you were attached to. Whoever it was, they were very close to you and very well loved. Here at the Andover Historical Society, we have many special friends from children, including dolls and stuffed animals, as well as other children’s toys. This week’s Exhibit Highlight Object is on display now in our “Common Indecency” exhibit, and it is sure to evoke warm and cozy memories from your youth.

Object 1996.091.9

The object for this week is a stuffed dog, who is well worn but certainly loved. The dog is the perfect size for a child to cuddle with, and he has a red nose and an adorable curled tail. The dog is made of wool, with a crocheted cover that is badly worn and torn. His floppy ears are also crocheted, not stuffed. Certainly not in the best shape, but this dog was obviously special to someone.

The stuffed dog was donated to the Historical Society with a collection of other children’s clothes and toys by Louise Coffin Downes in October 1996. Louise lived in a very old and darling Andover house known as Rose Cottage located at 2 Chestnut Street. The house was built in the early 1800’s, and was used as everything from a church rectory to a tea room. When Ms. Downes bought the house in 1949, her mother, Mrs. Fletcher Coffin, helped restore the house to its original state.

Made circa 1900, the dog was from an era where the variety of children’s toys was rapidly expanding. In the 1800’s, toys were fairly simple, and things like blocks and dolls were very popular. When the “teddy bear” was invented in the early 1900’s, children’s toys were becoming more interesting and complex. At the time our dog was made, popular toys included dolls, tin cars, teddy bears, building blocks, and a building kit called Meccano which included wheels, metal plates, and nuts and bolts.

The dog on display now has probably seen and been loved by many children, and although its days of cuddling may be over, its days of being loved are not. On display now, it is enjoying its visitors as it once again sees people appreciating it for the wonderful toy that it is.


Exhibit Highlight: The Smoking Cap of the Lord Mayor of London

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012
In 1911, an elderly widow named Winifred Tyer lived on the outskirts of town on Spring Grove Road in Andover.  Her wealthy husband, Henry George Tyer, had died nearly thirty years before, yet she still corresponded on stationery under the heading:
Mrs. Henry G. Tyer
100 Spring Grove Road
Andover, Massachusetts 01810
Winifred’s beloved son, Horace, had passed away in 1907.  Mrs. Tyer was left with a rather extensive collection from her husband’s colorful past, and that she still remembered him proudly and fondly is to be expected.  In 1911 she donated much of the collection to the newly-formed Andover Historical Society.  One of those items is displayed in the current exhibit, Common Indecency.
The object is a Turkish-style fez made of deep purple velvet, also called a smoking cap.  It originally belonged to Henry George Tyer’s uncle, Sir John Musgrove.  Musgrove made his fortune in real estate, and by 1850, he was in the booming textile business.  In November of that year, Musgrove was elected Lord Mayor of London, a post discrete from the position of Mayor of London, and largely a ceremonial title.  On May 1st of the following year, John Musgrove, along with the rest of London, attended the opening of the Great Exhibition at the recently constructed Crystal Palace.  Queen Victoria herself opened the festivities under a great canopy of royal purple trimmed with silver before countless spectators.  The intention of this exhibition was to create “an occasion which might be celebrated by the whole human race without one pang of regret, envy, or national hate.”(London Times, 2 May 1851)  As was customary for an elected Lord Mayor of London, Musgrove was, upon leaving his position in 1851, granted a knighthood.
Henry George Tyer was born in Hackney, London, a neighborhood populated by middle class merchants.  He emigrated to New Brunswick, New Jersey, and started a business in rubber.  Throughout the 1840s and 50s, Tyer was granted no less than six U.S. patents for his novel rubber weaving techniques, and in 1856, he established the Tyer Rubber Manufacturing Company in Ballardvale, and soon afterward he opened a shop in Andover.  His biggest seller was, unsurprisingly for New England, a “Compo” shoe guaranteed to keep out melting snow.  Tyer became big enough in the business that he even found himself peripherally involved in legal action against the more famous Charles Goodyear over patents.
In 1881, when his uncle John Musgrove died with no heirs, Henry Tyer inherited his estate, as the oldest living male relative.  Amongst the vast amounts of money and real estate, Tyer inherited some personal effects, including the fez.  Before Musgrove’s estate could be entirely settled, however, Henry George Tyer himself passed away, leaving Winifred to inherit everything.
In 1988, possibly because of the hat’s festive look, it was put on display for a Christmas exhibit.  Little was known about the piece at that time; it was dated to circa 1880s – probably because this was when Musgrove and Tyer both died.  In 2004 the fez was reexamined by the Andover Historical Society.  It was found to contain “some small bugs and frass in [the] brim…bugs looked old and long dead.”  It is beyond question that in the late nineteenth century, smoking caps were considered very stylish in England, particularly among “aesthetes” like Oscar Wilde who frequented opium parlors.  However, the fez currently on display must date to before 1881.  The fact that it has such an unusual provenance strongly suggests it was either made for or purchased from the 1851 Great Exhibition.  Often, the simple fact that a particular object has been preserved rather than thrown away makes an argument for its past.
Consider this painting of Victoria opening the ceremony.  In the foreground are some officers dressed in purple coats, and wearing hats in much the same style as the one on display.  Could one of these attendants depict the Lord Mayor himself, standing at a respectable distance from her majesty?
It is entirely possible that the fez was made or purchased later as a novelty by the Musgroves.  But the other possibilities are very intriguing indeed.
James Miele, AHS Staff