[N.P.]: 1880. Promotional pocket diary, courtesy of Calders Florist of Boston. Printed wraps fastened with ribbon at the spine, measuring 5 x 2 inches. Comprised of 10 manuscript pages and including three original drawings in ink. A poetic gift to the 8 year old Edith V. Flanders (b. 1872) of Vermont from her maternal aunt Charlotte, with an inscription on the final page: "Dear Little Edie, Please accept this, written when I was feeling tired and ill. Your aff. Aunt Lottie."
Calligraphy and sketching were important activities for educated women at the turn of the century. As these women gained power in consumer culture as readers and art collectors, they also publicly practiced good taste and displayed their educations by crafting pieces of their own. "Copying verses in beautiful calligraphy sheltered women from the charge of an extravagant and corrupting interest in purely commercialized forms of culture...this personal, tactile involvement with decorative objects remained a powerful index of women's gentility" and a measure of their literary and artistic knowledge (di Bello). The present example stands out for its personalized composition and more impromptu copying. As the closing gift inscription and the choice of binding suggest, this was a labor of love put together in a moment of convalescence, using materials easily at hand and drawing inspiration and comfort from the love of a niece. In this sense, it is also an expression of intimacy and a symbol of mentorship, as Aunt Lottie ushers "Little Edie" into a female community with this gift. Lottie opts to begin with a poem specifically about Edith: Our Little Dumpling. This is followed by the original Lily and Rosebud, possibly inspired by the Anna Maria Sargeant juvenile book The Lily and the Rose, or the Two Sisters (released that same year); and it seems to be a nod to Edith's relationships to her own sisters, as well as to the Christian household to which the family belongs (as Edith's father was a pastor, and Sargeant was a writer well known for her religious themes). This female-centric pieces are accompanied by lovely portraits in the style of miniatures.
A beautiful and personal example of two different generations of women connecting over literary and artistic creations. Its condition suggests that it was and remained a valued keepsake. While it is unknown where Aunt Lottie resided, census records show that Edith's father Alonzo was a minister who lived variously in Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Massachusetts; the youngest, Edith was raised in Vermont and educated at home with her sisters, while her brothers all attended school.
US Census 1880 (Family of Alonzo B. and Sarah Flanders). (Item #4217)