Lot

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Lock of George Washington's Hair and Related Correspondence between the Derbys of Salem, Massach...

In American Furniture & Decorative Arts

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Marlborough, Massachusetts

Lock of George Washington's Hair and Related Correspondence between the Derbys of Salem, Massachusetts, and Poole-Kings of Bristol, England, 1802-73. Approximately fifteen strands of red and gray human hair up to 14 inches in length, wrapped with paper contained in acrylic case. Mrs. Richard Crowninshield Derby (Martha Coffin Derby, 1782-1832) presented the lock to Thomas Poole (1766-1837) of Somerset, England, during her grand tour of Europe in 1801-3. Poole subsequently kept the hair in a copy of the Portland Vase given to him by Josiah Wedgwood II (1769-1843), together with a dedication written by its second owner, John Kenyon (1784-1856), all as indicated by the included papers: 1. Letter from Martha Coffin Derby addressed to Thomas Poole, Stowey near Bridgewater, Somerset (15 March 1802). Indexed by Poole as 'General Washington's hair' 'given to her by the Widow of the General.' 2. Undated sheet with 'Inscription for a Vase' by John Kenyon written on recto; verso indexed by Poole as, 'An Inscription written by Kenyon to be placed under my Portland Vase which contains a Lock of General Washington's Hair.' 3. Memo of Richard Jenkins Poole King, Kensington House, Brislington, Bristol (7 August 1871). 'This Vase was given to my Uncle, Thomas Poole, of Nether-Stowey, in the year 1790, by Josiah Wedgwood the manufacturer ... It was used by Mr. Poole until the time of his death in 1837, as a Mausoleum for a lock of Washington's Hair.' 4. Letter from George Derby (1819-74), 102 Charles Street, Boston, Massachusetts, USA, to Poole King (22 June 1872). 'Two other portions of this Washington Hair were given by the niece of Mrs. Harford, Mrs. Richard C. Derby, (who was also a sister of my mother), the one to Dr. Warren an eminent surgeon of Boston in former days, and the other to my father [John Derby, 1779-1874]. This latter is now mine, and is a much valued possession.' 5. Derby to Poole King (30 August 1873). '...The endorsement by Mr. Poole of the original letter [no. 1, above] answers the question concerning which I was in doubt. Mrs. Richard Derby received the hair from Mrs. Washington's own hands. This corresponds with the tradition...Mr. and Mrs. Derby had no children and were great travelers and could hardly have failed to meet Mr. Washington. This meeting must have been at Mount Vernon I think.' Footnotes: Provenance 27 May 1975: Good English Pottery, Sotheby's, London, England. Sold with 'Poole Vase', which is illustrated in a May 1975 Burlington Magazine advertisement. May 1871: Richard Jenkins Poole King (1799-1874) of Kensington House, Brislington, Bristol, England, purchased with Wedgwood 'Portland Vase' from John Sandford (1801-73), Archdeacon of Coventry, husband of Thomas Poole's niece, Elizabeth Poole Sandford (1797/8-1853), of Dunkirk, Warwickshire, England. 1856: To John Sanford, by bequest from John Kenyon (1784-1856) of St. Peter's College, Cambridge, England. 1837: To John Kenyon, by bequest from Thomas Poole (1766-1837) of Nether-Stowey, Bridgewater, Somerset, England. 1802: To Thomas Poole from Mrs. Richard Crowninshield Derby, née Martha Coffin (1782-1832) of Portland, Maine, and Boston, Massachusetts. c. 1800: To Martha (Coffin) Derby from Martha Washington (1731-1802), Mount Vernon, Virginia. Literature In a letter dated 19 March 1802, Thomas Poole wrote to Thomas Wedgwood, 'I have got possession of a relick, by means of a Friend of mine, worthy of being deposited in the Portland vase, where I mean to deposit it: it is a lock of General Washington's hair. It was given me by a beautiful Lady just come from America, who received it from Mrs. Washington herself since the General's death. I mean to have a gold box with a glass cover to place it in. On the back of the box shall be engraved an account of the manner in which I came by the lock of hair. The box shall be placed with a contrivance to take it in the portland vase, for which I am indebted to your brother [Josiah Wedgwood II]; and I think it will be the most magnificent entombment of General Washington's remains which those venerated remains have yet experienced.' Quoted in Eliza Meteyard, A Group of Englishmen, 1795-1815 (London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1871), p. 125-6. Meteyard further quotes a 6 July 1868 letter from the current owner, Richard Poole King, stating, 'The vase stood over the fire place in Mr. Poole's library; underneath it is a small portrait of Washington, the glass of which, as a boy, I had the misfortune to break, and great were my disgrace and punishment, unless I had it restored. I therefore remember it without much pleasure.' Also see Meteyard, The Wedgwood Hand-book (London: G. Bell, 1875), p. 303, for a list of early Wedgwood copies of the Portland (or Barberini) vase, an early 1st century A.D. Roman cameo glass amphora made famous by the 18th-century antiquarian Sir William Hamilton, now in the collection of the British Museum (acc. no. 1945,0927.1). Kenyon's 'Inscription for a Vase' was first published in Poem's for the Most Part Occasional (London: Edward Moxon, 1838), a volume dedicated to the recently deceased Thomas Poole. See Meredith B. Raymond, 'John Kenyon, The Magnificent Dilettante,' Studies in Browning and His Circle 14 (1986): 57. Note The lock of hair Martha Derby gave to her brother-in-law, John Derby (1779-1874) of Salem, Massachusetts, referred to in the letters of his son, George, was preserved in a pearl brooch together with correspondence from Richard Poole King. Gebelein Silversmiths of Boston later obtained the brooch and documents, which last sold at Alexander Historical Auctions, Chesapeake City, Maryland (19 January 2024), Lot 704. Saleroom notices: Provenance Note The lock of hair, documents, and vase last sold together in the sale Good English Pottery including the Property of Sir John Wedgwood and Various Owners, Sotheby's London (27 May 1975), Lot 177: 'Wedgwood's 'Poole' Copy of the Portland Vase accompanied by a lock of George Washington's hair,' catalogued as follows: ' Lot to be sold without reserve. For further information on this lot please visit Bonhams.com For further information about this lot please visit the lot listing

Saleroom Notice:
Provenance Note The lock of hair, documents, and vase last sold together in the sale Good English Pottery including the Property of Sir John Wedgwood and Various Owners, Sotheby's London (27 May 1975), Lot 177: "Wedgwood's 'Poole' Copy of the Portland Vase accompanied by a lock of George Washington's hair," catalogued as follows: "

Lock of George Washington's Hair and Related Correspondence between the Derbys of Salem, Massachusetts, and Poole-Kings of Bristol, England, 1802-73. Approximately fifteen strands of red and gray human hair up to 14 inches in length, wrapped with paper contained in acrylic case. Mrs. Richard Crowninshield Derby (Martha Coffin Derby, 1782-1832) presented the lock to Thomas Poole (1766-1837) of Somerset, England, during her grand tour of Europe in 1801-3. Poole subsequently kept the hair in a copy of the Portland Vase given to him by Josiah Wedgwood II (1769-1843), together with a dedication written by its second owner, John Kenyon (1784-1856), all as indicated by the included papers: 1. Letter from Martha Coffin Derby addressed to Thomas Poole, Stowey near Bridgewater, Somerset (15 March 1802). Indexed by Poole as 'General Washington's hair' 'given to her by the Widow of the General.' 2. Undated sheet with 'Inscription for a Vase' by John Kenyon written on recto; verso indexed by Poole as, 'An Inscription written by Kenyon to be placed under my Portland Vase which contains a Lock of General Washington's Hair.' 3. Memo of Richard Jenkins Poole King, Kensington House, Brislington, Bristol (7 August 1871). 'This Vase was given to my Uncle, Thomas Poole, of Nether-Stowey, in the year 1790, by Josiah Wedgwood the manufacturer ... It was used by Mr. Poole until the time of his death in 1837, as a Mausoleum for a lock of Washington's Hair.' 4. Letter from George Derby (1819-74), 102 Charles Street, Boston, Massachusetts, USA, to Poole King (22 June 1872). 'Two other portions of this Washington Hair were given by the niece of Mrs. Harford, Mrs. Richard C. Derby, (who was also a sister of my mother), the one to Dr. Warren an eminent surgeon of Boston in former days, and the other to my father [John Derby, 1779-1874]. This latter is now mine, and is a much valued possession.' 5. Derby to Poole King (30 August 1873). '...The endorsement by Mr. Poole of the original letter [no. 1, above] answers the question concerning which I was in doubt. Mrs. Richard Derby received the hair from Mrs. Washington's own hands. This corresponds with the tradition...Mr. and Mrs. Derby had no children and were great travelers and could hardly have failed to meet Mr. Washington. This meeting must have been at Mount Vernon I think.' Footnotes: Provenance 27 May 1975: Good English Pottery, Sotheby's, London, England. Sold with 'Poole Vase', which is illustrated in a May 1975 Burlington Magazine advertisement. May 1871: Richard Jenkins Poole King (1799-1874) of Kensington House, Brislington, Bristol, England, purchased with Wedgwood 'Portland Vase' from John Sandford (1801-73), Archdeacon of Coventry, husband of Thomas Poole's niece, Elizabeth Poole Sandford (1797/8-1853), of Dunkirk, Warwickshire, England. 1856: To John Sanford, by bequest from John Kenyon (1784-1856) of St. Peter's College, Cambridge, England. 1837: To John Kenyon, by bequest from Thomas Poole (1766-1837) of Nether-Stowey, Bridgewater, Somerset, England. 1802: To Thomas Poole from Mrs. Richard Crowninshield Derby, née Martha Coffin (1782-1832) of Portland, Maine, and Boston, Massachusetts. c. 1800: To Martha (Coffin) Derby from Martha Washington (1731-1802), Mount Vernon, Virginia. Literature In a letter dated 19 March 1802, Thomas Poole wrote to Thomas Wedgwood, 'I have got possession of a relick, by means of a Friend of mine, worthy of being deposited in the Portland vase, where I mean to deposit it: it is a lock of General Washington's hair. It was given me by a beautiful Lady just come from America, who received it from Mrs. Washington herself since the General's death. I mean to have a gold box with a glass cover to place it in. On the back of the box shall be engraved an account of the manner in which I came by the lock of hair. The box shall be placed with a contrivance to take it in the portland vase, for which I am indebted to your brother [Josiah Wedgwood II]; and I think it will be the most magnificent entombment of General Washington's remains which those venerated remains have yet experienced.' Quoted in Eliza Meteyard, A Group of Englishmen, 1795-1815 (London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1871), p. 125-6. Meteyard further quotes a 6 July 1868 letter from the current owner, Richard Poole King, stating, 'The vase stood over the fire place in Mr. Poole's library; underneath it is a small portrait of Washington, the glass of which, as a boy, I had the misfortune to break, and great were my disgrace and punishment, unless I had it restored. I therefore remember it without much pleasure.' Also see Meteyard, The Wedgwood Hand-book (London: G. Bell, 1875), p. 303, for a list of early Wedgwood copies of the Portland (or Barberini) vase, an early 1st century A.D. Roman cameo glass amphora made famous by the 18th-century antiquarian Sir William Hamilton, now in the collection of the British Museum (acc. no. 1945,0927.1). Kenyon's 'Inscription for a Vase' was first published in Poem's for the Most Part Occasional (London: Edward Moxon, 1838), a volume dedicated to the recently deceased Thomas Poole. See Meredith B. Raymond, 'John Kenyon, The Magnificent Dilettante,' Studies in Browning and His Circle 14 (1986): 57. Note The lock of hair Martha Derby gave to her brother-in-law, John Derby (1779-1874) of Salem, Massachusetts, referred to in the letters of his son, George, was preserved in a pearl brooch together with correspondence from Richard Poole King. Gebelein Silversmiths of Boston later obtained the brooch and documents, which last sold at Alexander Historical Auctions, Chesapeake City, Maryland (19 January 2024), Lot 704. Saleroom notices: Provenance Note The lock of hair, documents, and vase last sold together in the sale Good English Pottery including the Property of Sir John Wedgwood and Various Owners, Sotheby's London (27 May 1975), Lot 177: 'Wedgwood's 'Poole' Copy of the Portland Vase accompanied by a lock of George Washington's hair,' catalogued as follows: ' Lot to be sold without reserve. For further information on this lot please visit Bonhams.com For further information about this lot please visit the lot listing

Saleroom Notice:
Provenance Note The lock of hair, documents, and vase last sold together in the sale Good English Pottery including the Property of Sir John Wedgwood and Various Owners, Sotheby's London (27 May 1975), Lot 177: "Wedgwood's 'Poole' Copy of the Portland Vase accompanied by a lock of George Washington's hair," catalogued as follows: "

American Furniture & Decorative Arts

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Venue Address
274 Cedar Hill St
Marlborough
Massachusetts
01752
United States
...

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Tags: Magazine, Letter, Book