1884 Handwritten Letter with Butterfly and Rich History, Jackson NH

Regular price $65.00

This makes me happy for all sorts of reasons, the first and most obvious being the tiger swallowtail butterfly hand-stitched to the top of it--tethered just about 140 years ago, with those two crossed stitches holding it still. "Here is a butter-fly. I helped to catch.  I have seen twenty of these on the road in one spot," writes the sender to "Robbie" on June 22, 1884, in the carefully printed handwriting of a child, probably of age 10 or 11.

Adding to its interest is the envelope from Thorn Mountain House / Wentworth Hall in Jackson, NH -- an estate turned grand resort hotel that opened to the public with fanfare in 1883, just a year before the writing of the letter. The complex was developed by civil war veteran General Marshall Clark Wentworth according to the principles of a “cottage system”, popular in Great Britain, novel to the U.S., with Wentworth Hall  (designed as a reproduction of an “English manorial hall of Queen Anne’s day”) serving as the hub around which many cottages were scattered, affording guests privacy while facilitating communal gathering in the main hotel. According to the town of Jackson website, "appointments included running stream water, steam heat, telephone and telegraph service, electric bells, open fireplaces in all public rooms, well-engineered sanitation and a magnificent dining hall. It contained a smoking room, a children’s and nurse’s dining room and thirty sleeping rooms painted in robin’s egg blue."

 Anyway, for me, the letter and envelop and butterfly together create a rather wonderful time capsule of sorts, and make one imagine how it must have been to wander those grounds in search of butterflies!  And the addressee of the letter, Robert Chapman of Portland, Maine, I do believe was the son of Portland's then mayor, Charles J. Chapman, of a prominent New England family. 

10 3/4" x 6 3/4" framed, as found.I haven't opened the frame to read the full letter but it would be very easy to do. All in good shape, with a bit of loss to the butterfly as documented. Stable and clean.