Feather Pen Experience

When I told my sister, Steph, that I had to have an analog experience for class, she very excitedly said, “Write me a letter!” I didn’t consider it as I speak to her for hours on the phone nearly every day. I didn’t even know what I would write to her in a letter. However, I remembered the feather pen set she had given to me months ago. Calligraphy was one of those hobbies she almost got into, but eventually gave up on. I don’t know if she opened this pen set, honestly. So, I thought I could try my hand at calligraphy in the letter I was already writing for her birthday. I thought that it would be simple enough as I have experience in typography already. I swiftly learned that this process was not going to be simple or easy. It was also nothing like typography to me. 

I first had to pick between eight complicated looking writing tips for the feather pen. I chose what appeared to be the most simple of these tips, thinking that this would be a good starting point. I can’t say I ever got a full grasp on the angle that the tip of the pen should hit the paper. Times where I thought I was writing smoothly would quickly shift into the pen not writing at all despite not shifting its placement and assuring that it is still holding ink. My furiously dipping the feather pen in ink would of course lead to ink pooling where my letters should have been. I know I could have looked up a tutorial on how to write with a feather pen, but I wanted to approach this experience without any previous help knowledge.

 I had to restart my letter to my sister four times before I finally settled on the final version. At this point I had also spilled the black ink three times. I should say, hand sanitizer was the most effective in removing the ink stain from my desk and belongings. My starts were often ruined with misspellings, using too much ink, or even breaking through the paper with the tip of the pen. 

Even in the finalized letter, I had not realized my writing was so slanted until I was already nearly done, but at that point there was nothing I could do about it. However, I think this is more of an issue of me not liking to write on unlined paper as opposed to my low calligraphy skill. 

One enjoyable aspect of writing with the feather pen was the ability to play with line thickness. I wrote in the same style I usually write in when taking notes, which is a mix between cursive and normal print, but the pen allowed for different line thicknesses in the shifts between letters. While I didn’t completely harness this aspect, with more practice I think this control over line quality would be very visually effective in developing nice handwriting with this medium. I found that this aspect would not show up in my writing when I would accidentally use too much ink. It was a delicate balance of having to constantly dip my pen, but also not do it too much.

What I found interesting when I had completed the letter was the texture of the words. When I run my hand over the page, I can feel the roughness of the words where I dug into the paper with the sharp point of the feather pen. It could also be caused by the build up of ink as there is a roughness to the letters that I accidentally used too much ink on. 

The letter I wrote is simple and reflects the same message I usually would write in a birthday card to my sister. The process of writing it with a feather pen and ink made something that I always found so simple, quite frustrating. I never felt comfortable using the feather pen, as I struggled to write smoothly. I also found myself thinking a lot about what I was actually writing because the process was so much slower than typing or writing with a normal pen. Five messy spills and an ink ruined manicure later, I still think I would give calligraphy with a feather pen a chance again, but it is something that requires a lot more practice and patience. 

Just in case anyone was curious about the gifts I mentioned in the letter, one was this enamel pin that is a cat in a cowboy hat that I thought was pretty great. We both love cats and I am proudly the person that got her to also become obsessed with Red Dead Redemption, so its kind of the perfect gift for her.

Pewter, a Dangerous Replacement for Silver

Estate Inventory of Cornelius DuBois page 9
Estate Inventory of Cornelius DuBois page 10

This section of the Estate Inventory of Cornelius DuBois mostly lists tools, utensils, and furniture, along with their prices. Within the inventory, utensils made from five different types of metal are recorded. The most frequent of these materials are pewter, appearing 6 times and tin, appearing 7 times. That is in contrast to brass, only appearing twice, and silver which is only listed once. Iron is in the middle, referenced 4 times, not including the tools that can be inferred are also made of iron. Over metal, plates and pitchers are often recorded in this inventory as being made from different types of decorated earthenware, which would be cheaper to produce than any of the metal plates.

Pewter itself is a tin-based alloy, made of mostly tin mixed with a small percent of another metal. When pewter was first being produced in ancient Rome, it would consist of about 70% tin and 30% lead (Britannica). Over time, the amount of lead in the pewter would lessen, though modern pewter tends to contain 90% tin with the other 10% being made of copper, antimony, and/or silver (Britannica). Early pewter’s high lead content allowed it to be made cheaply, however it also made using these utensils very dangerous. Due to lead being a poisonous material, the daily use of pewter utensils and drinking vessels led to many people dying from pewter poisoning (Way). The higher the amount of lead in pewter, the more dangerous it is, this meant that lower income individuals that could only afford high lead pewter were more exposed to lead poisoning. This tended to prove specifically fatal to sailors during the early development of pewter (Way). 

Despite this danger, pewter was initially viewed as a very desirable material to have in your home. In modern times, knowing the danger of lead we would avoid these utensils. However in early America this was very different, as stated by the collector Agatha Cowan, “From the time of first settlement through the Revolutionary War, all Americans aspired to eat and drink from pewter. Every American who could afford it used pewter daily. For the common man the appeal of pewter continued into the I870’s…” (Cowan 297). This shows that despite not reaching the same pristine image of silver, pewter was still a hot commodity for the emerging middle class of America in the 18th and 19th centuries.

When looking at the inventory one can see that a collection of 14 silver teaspoons and tongs recorded on page 10 are worth $12. Calculating inflation, this would be equivalent to spending roughly $269 today (Webster). While there is no direct set of 14 pewter spoons listed, for comparison, we may look towards the collection of 3 pewter plates and 6 pewter spoons on the inventory page 9. This set is valued at 50 cents, after calculating inflation, using the same system as we did with the silver spoons, this value equates to roughly $11 today (Webster). This depicts the practicality of buying pewter over silver from a purely financial point of view, which is why it was so desirable as a material for utensils and dinnerware. The fault of pewter came with both its danger when containing high volumes of lead, but also with its degradation. Pewter may replicate the shine of silver at first, but this is hard to maintain, as over time it will become dark and dull. 

Set 4 Antique Dundee Silver Fiddle Teaspoons, Dated circa 1810 Alexander Cameron
Three Large 18th Century Pewter Soup Spoons, Handcrafted

This can be seen when comparing antique silver spoons and antique pewter spoons. While both metals require a certain amount of maintenance and polishing, there is a notable difference in the quality of these utensils. The silver set of spoons from 1810, when maintained, are able to achieve a mirror-like shine and a smooth texture. When viewed beside a set of 18th century pewter spoons, one can see the ways that pewter was used to mimic silver, without reaching that level of brilliance. There is a dullness to the spoons, as this pewter’s surface has darkened and degraded with age. There is also visible damage to the pewter spoons, not visible on the silver spoons. This may be due to the pewter being more of a daily use object rather than the more special or valuable silver spoons. This also could be because of the softs of the metals in pewter as opposed to silver, depicting another one of pewter’s downfalls. Pewter’s tendency to become damaged would go on to be a part of its initial production. The pewter industry in American relied heavily on the metal from worn-out pewter objects for its raw material (Cowan 297). Therefore, recycling of material was an important step in production, making early pewter pieces a rare find in today’s collecting world due to the melting down of these objects.

Pewter, when containing a large amount of lead, can also be notably heavy when compared to other mixtures of the metal (Way). Thus, adding on to its danger and its darkening, pewter is rather clunky to use as opposed to silver. However, the fact that pewter appears far more often on this inventory than silver shows that this household preferred the more affordable material despite its drawbacks. This can be shocking due to the DuBois family’s known wealth. Though pewter might have been seen as a close enough material to silver for utensils used everyday, rather than particularly special silvery utensils which may be used in the presence of guests.

Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “pewter”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 6 Sep.2019, https://www.britannica.com/technology/pewter. Accessed 21 November2021.

Cowan, Agatha. The Art Bulletin, vol. 57, no. 2, [Taylor & Francis, Ltd., College Art Association], 1975, pp. 296–97, https://doi.org/10.2307/3049390.

Way, George. “Early Pewter Was Beautiful, but Dangerous.” Silive, 18 Mar. 2010,https://www.silive.com/homegarden/antiques/2010/03/early_pewter_was_beautiful_but.html.

Webster, Ian. “$12 In 1810 → 2021 | Inflation Calculator”. Officialdata.Org, 2021,https://www.officialdata.org/us/inflation/1810?amount=12.

Webster, Ian. “$0.50 In 1810 → 2021 | Inflation Calculator”. Officialdata.Org, 2021,https://www.officialdata.org/us/inflation/1810?amount=0.50.

“Set 4 Antique Dundee Silver Fiddle Teaspoons, Dated Circa 1810 Alexander Cameron For Sale At 1Stdibs”. 1Stdibs.Com, 2021,https://www.1stdibs.com/furniture/dining-entertaining/sterling-silver/set-4-antiqu-dunde-silver-fiddle-teaspoons-dated-circa-1810-alexander-cameron/id-f_1535582/.

“Three Large 18Th Century Pewter Soup Spoons, Handcrafted For Sale At 1Stdibs”.1Stdibs.Co.Uk,2021,https://www.1stdibs.co.uk/furniture/dining-entertaining/tablware/three-large-18th-century-pewter-soup-spoons-handcrafted/id-f_9967923/.

Mont Blanc in Frankenstein

An aerial photograph of Mont Blanc in the Alps.

Mont Blanc is an important location within Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Mont Blanc is the tallest peak in Western Europe, reaching 15,771 feet (or 4,807 meters) in height (Britannica). This peak is within the Alps Mountain range, with Mont Blanc located directly on the border of Italy and France. Shelley uses this peak to display the Romantic ideal of the sublime. When something is described as sublime, it is in reference to a natural scene being awe inspiring, but also intimidating or inducing fear. Mont Blanc surely should instill a sense of fear, as it is one of the most fatal mountains in the world, with an average of 100 climbers dying on the mountain per year (Wallace). The way Victor speaks of the Alps is akin to the way a Romantic poet would write about them. In expressing his initial feeling of viewing the mountains Victor says, “It had then filled me with a sublime ecstasy that gave wings to the soul… The sight of the awful and majestic in nature had indeed always the effect of solemnizing my mind,” (Mary Shelley 75). Victor would go on to describe Mont Blanc in specific as having an “awful majesty” (Mary Shelley 76). The language that Victor uses in discussing Mont Blanc, specifically in the reference to the sublime, can be seen as a reference to Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem “Mont Blanc: Lines Written in the Vale of Chamouni,” written in 1816 (Percy Shelley). Both Frankenstein and Shelley express similar thoughts when confronted with the sight of Mont Blanc, stating that its imposing grandeur instills a feeling of solitude and self reflection on the viewer. This poem’s focus on the solitude of the human within this natural scene creates a greater tie between the necessity of solitude and the sublime. Thus, Mary Shelley creates this same tie by using Mont Blanc to be a representative of the concept of the sublime and a place of solitude for both Victor and the Creature.

Mont Blanc is also the setting where Victor and the Creature cross paths throughout the novel. In making Mont Blanc the place where the creator and his creation meet, Shelley only highlights the similarities between the two characters and their inescapable connection. Both Victor and the Creature often seek spaces of solitude and hold a deep reverence for sublime nature. The fact that Mont Blanc is a dangerous, glacial mountain calls on the sublime fear induced by nature, as well as the danger these two characters pose to each other. There is also something to say in that Victor is meeting his creation at the highest peak in Western Europe. Not only was the creature meant to be Victor’s highest achievement in his scientific practice, but it also seems to reference Frankenstein’s stance as a modern Prometheus. Prometheus’s hubris caused him to fly too close to the sun, as Victor’s caused him to attempt to reach the level of a god and create life. Thus, the place where he must be confronted by his hubris is the tallest peak in Western Europe.

Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopedia. “Mont Blanc”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 5

Dec. 2018, https://www.britannica.com/place/Mont-Blanc-mountain-Europe.

Accessed 19 November 2021. 

Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft. Frankenstein. Edited by Marilyn Butler, Oxford University

Press, 2008. 

Shelley, Percy Bysshe. “Mont Blanc: Lines Written in the Vale of Chamouni.” Poetry

Foundation, Poetry Foundation,

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/45130/mont-blanc-lines-written-in-the-

ale-of-chamouni.

Wallace, Lane. “Why Is Mont Blanc One of the World’s Deadliest Mountains?” The

Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 25 July 2012,

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/07/why-is-mont-blanc-on

-of-the-worlds-deadliest-mountains/260143/. 

An Abundance of Books

My bookshelf at the start of the process.

Between my bookshelf at home, my shelf in my art studio, and the books I have in my dorm, I own about ninety books. I have decided to focus on tackling my bookshelf at home, which holds sixty-six books. I have decided to pick up and consider each one of my books, deciding which ones “spark joy” in me and which are really just clutter. To start this process, I have removed all of the books from my shelves, leaving only knick-knacks and paper clutter behind. I have now split my sixty-six books into twelve categories. These categories are not split evenly rather they are based on time period, purpose, or author. Splitting the books into groups made the process a little less overwhelming. 

Books by the Beat Generation (Kerouac, Burroughs, Ferlinghetti, di Prima, and Ginsberg)

I found it funny that even when I was first planning this process, I had books in mind that I would be getting rid of. It makes me wonder why I didn’t get rid of these books that have been bothering me in the first place. The first books I knew I wanted to get rid of come from my collection of books written by authors of the Beat Generation. I got these books when I was taking an English class on the Beat Generation last semester. I wanted to get rid of both of my Jack Kerouac books, as the rampant sexism in these two novels brings me the opposite of a spark of joy. As for the other books, I felt very content to put Burroughs, Ferlinghetti, and di Prima in the “sell” pile as I don’t have any desire to reread any of these books. One book I didn’t feel comfortable getting rid of ws Allen Ginsberg’s Howl. The book doesn’t take up much space, being thin and small. I also can say that the handful of Ginsberg’s poems I read in this book did generate a positive response from me and I would like to one day read the rest. This leaves one book in the keep pile and five books in the toss pile.

Whether or not I would read the book again tended to be the trend on how I would determine what books stayed and went. This was quite difficult as I had to make my future actions and the time I would be able to alot to my books predictable. This was easy for books that I just didn’t enjoy, even with multiple readings, as I knew that they brought no joy or positivity into my life. It was also easy to determine what books stayed, as they were all the books that I have really loved. 

Vonnegut books

One set of books that I knew I would keep are my collection of Vonnegut books. One is my first copy of Slaughterhouse-Five that I first bought and read when I was eleven years old. Another book is a graphic novel adaptation of Slaughterhouse-Five that I bought a few months ago. The set of books is a box set of all of Vonnegut’s stories, compacted into four books, bought for me by my mother. While the box set may make my old copy of Slaughterhouse-Five obsolete, I just can’t force myself to get rid of any of these books, as they are so important to me. I can say that every time I pick up one of my Vonnegut books, I feel a spark of pure joy, so they will remain on my shelves.

Some older, classic Western literature (Dante, Boccaccio, Sophocles, and Nietzsche)
Classical British Literature (Swift, Shakespeare, and Carroll)

Sifting through my collection of classic literature left me rather conflicted, as I found myself wanting to get rid of books that I didn’t enjoy, but felt that I should because of their status as “a classic.” After giving in to my own emotions towards these texts, I found myself getting rid of The Tempest, Gulliver’s Travels, and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. I didn’t really enjoy reading any of these books so I likely won’t be reading them again. Using this same system I am keeping a lot of my Medieval, Greco-Roman, and modern classical literature that I do see myself reading again. This includes works from Sophocles, Boccaccio, Nietzsche, Sartre, Salinger, and others. I actually find it funny how many of these books I have read upwards of three or four times, specifically titles by Nietzsche.

The books that I have yet to read.

I have a collection of books that I have bought, but not yet read. All of them were purchased during the break before the start of the semester. I am hoping that during my break before graduate school I can chip away at these particular books, so I will not be getting rid of them. Even though I have read The Odyssey three times now, I am still very excited to read Emily Wilson’s translation, in specific, because I have heard great things about it. I also can’t help but feel that getting rid of books you haven’t even given a chance is like throwing away an opportunity.

The nineteen books I am getting rid of.

In totality I am getting rid of nineteen out of sixty-six books, leaving forty-seven behind. I am honestly shocked that I got myself to get rid of so many books. However, the process was oddly freeing. It is nice to see my bookshelf more closely representing my ideals now that I have removed books that I do not feel a connection to. It is also nice to see free space on the shelves, as before it felt like a battle to squeeze a new book onto a shelf. Though, I must say that actually donating or selling these books may be a harder task than putting them in a pile that says “donate.” 

My bookshelf after this process.

“Luigi Valadier: Splendor in Eighteenth-Century Rome” By: Natalie Hawkins, Kim Blum, and Zoey Calison

Luigi Valadier (1726–1785)
Herm of Bacchus, 1773
Bronze, alabastro a rosa, bianco e nero antico, and africano verde
h. 68 7/8 in. (175 cm)
Galleria Borghese, Rome
Mauro Magliani

Luigi Valadier: Splendor in Eighteenth-Century Rome was an exhibition displayed at The Frick Collection in Manhattan from October 31, 2018 and January 20, 2019. This exhibition is one of three produced by the Frick Collection meant to highlight historically overlooked decorative artists. Scholar, researcher, and curator, Alvar González-Palacios in collaboration with art critic, Xavier F. Salomon curated the first museum exhibition devoted to the works of Luigi Valadier in the United States. This collection looks to introduce the wider public to the splendid objects to come from Luigi Valadier’s busy workshop in 18th century Rome. The collection includes a wide range of objects meant for both private and religious display, all of which are covered in meticulous designs, precious metals, and rare stones. Valadier himself is a rather tragic figure, as despite being consistently employed by some of the richest families in Europe, he found himself in a great deal of debt at the end of his life. Debt which is believed to have been a result of a large amount of unpaid commissions. This lead to Valadier’s suicide by drowning in 1785. It was at this time that his workshop would be passed on to his son Giuseppe, who would go on to compile a complete inventory manuscript of his father’s works, tools, and materials. This manuscript was crucial to the later exhibition of Valadier’s works. 

The collection was displayed in three sections. The lower level south gallery displays secular work. Across the vestibule, the lower level north gallery displays ecclesiastical work. Both of these lower level galleries show the work in low-lit rooms with dark blue walls. On the ground floor of the Frick, in an oval room Valadier’s table Centerpieces are displayed in the center of the room, placed in a style which is meant to reflect the Roman Forum. This room is opened up to the larger museum, making the room brighter than the other galleries in the collection. While the exhibit is no longer on display, The Frick Collection website offers high resolution photos of all of the objects in the collection, as well as a virtual tour which shows the objects as they were placed during the time of the exhibition. 

Lower Level South Gallery
Lower Level North Gallery
Ground Floor of Frick- Oval Room

Bibliography:

González-Palacios, Alvar. “Two Candelabra by Luigi Valadier from Palazzo Borghese.” Metropolitan Museum Journal, vol. 30, [University of Chicago Press, Metropolitan Museum of Art], 1995, pp. 97–102, https://doi.org/10.2307/1512953.“

“Herm of Bacchus.” Galleria Borghese, 13 July 2020, https://www.galleriaborghese.net/portfolio-items/herm-of-bacchus/.

Introduction.” Introduction | The Frick Collection, https://www.frick.org/exhibitions/valadier/introduction.

“Luigi Valadier, Splendor in Eighteenth Century Rome.” YouTube, uploaded by The Frick Collection, 7 November 2018,

“Past Exhibition.” The Frick Collection, https://www.frick.org/exhibitions/valadier.

Roworth, Wendy Wassying. “Rethinking Eighteenth-Century Rome.” The Art Bulletin, vol. 83, no. 1, [Taylor & Francis, Ltd., College Art Association], 2001, pp. 135–44, https://doi.org/10.2307/3177194.

Smith, Roberta. “Luxuries of Long Ago, Fit for a Royal Banquet.” New York Times, 28 Dec. 2018, p. C13(L). Gale Academic OneFile,  link.gale.com/apps/doc/A567506269/AONE?u=newpaltz&sid=bookmark- AONE&xid=a0ccea16. Accessed 2 Oct. 2021.

Filomena’s Miraculous Medal

Filomena’s pendant photographed from the front.
Filomena’s pendant photographed from the back.
Filomena’s pendant (⅞ “ x 1 ⅛ “) photographed next to a quarter for scale.

The object I have decided to discuss is my great-grandmother’s medallion of the Virgin Mary. My great-grandmother, Filomena Pugliese has always been a beloved family figure. My mother told me countless stories about her paternal grandmother before I even got to see a photo of her for the first time. Though I don’t think either of the two photos I have of Filomena fully do her justice. The younger photo taken in 1926 shows her at 38 years old with her husband, Pietro Botte, and their seven children, technically eight as at the time she was pregnant with their son Daniel. This photo has become an heirloom in itself, depicting our Albanian-Italian family still partially in its beginnings in Brooklyn, NY. My beloved grandpa can be seen in the center, held by his father, this being one of the earliest photos we have of him. However, through this photo it was hard to know these people, to see past their strong expressions to who they are. That is where my mother’s help came in handy as she was able to let me in on the most endearing parts of Filomena Pugliese. 

Photograph of Filomena and her family taken in 1926.

The most fitting aspect I was able to learn about Filomena is that she had the utmost admiration for the Virgin Mary, even requesting to be buried in a blue dress just like the Madonna. This allows me to know a different meaning of her medallion. This was not just a random religious keepsake, it was HER Madonna that she would keep with her for the entirety of her adult life. It is debated whether it was given to her as a gift for her wedding in September of 1907 or if it was gifted to her by Pietro sometime in the decade following the wedding. Either way, it is known that this was a gift to her, and that the person who gave her the pendant was aware of her love of Mary. 

One can still see her hand on the pendant, clutched between thumb and pointer finger every time Filomena said her Hail Mary. The Mary’s features have been partially wiped away with these decades of rubbing, leaving a slightly smooth texture across her figure. Along the way three of the twenty-eight marcasite stones have become lost to time, perhaps lost to the grabbing of her children or grandchildren. The mother of pearl inlaid in the pendant still holds its smooth, lively shine, adding an ethereal feeling to the piece. When looking at the back of the pendant there is a hole where it looks like there might have once been a pin, so that the pendant may be worn on the clothes, which my mother recalls Filomena doing sometimes. However, the piece at the top shows that the pendant would actually go on to be worn exclusively as a necklace, though it is unclear when this switch actually happened. The chain it was once worn on has also been lost upon its passing from Filomena to my mother, Marie. 

This pendant and its worn appearance gives a glimpse into Filomena’s life and perhaps why she might have so heavily held on to her Mary. By the time she died in August of 1980 at the age of 92, she had buried her husband and six of her ten children. By the time she was 45, Filomena had already lost three of her children as well as her husband. Her twin daughters died in their first year of the Spanish flu in 1919. Her youngest son, Danny, tragically died in 1933 during a botched tonsillectomy. In 1928, Pietro Botte attempted to break up a street fight and had his own smoking pipe jammed into his left eye, dying of an infection days later as the family could not afford the hospital visit. Being left a widow with seven children during the Great Depression would have been unimaginably difficult for Filomena. She overcame so much hardship, yet the only traits my mother can connect to Filomena are her serenity, kindness, and warmth. Filomena’s devotion to her children was paid back to her later in life. Her daughter Catterina, Aunt Kitty, would forgo marriage to spend her life caring for her mother. My grandfather, Jimmy, had such a love for his mother that he stopped eating when he was 92, claiming he wanted to die at the same age as her. 

I am glad that the pendant now sits in my mother’s hands. As a widow herself raising three kids, I think her grandmother has become one of her sources of strength. Filomena has become such a representation of strength and endurance for my family. If anything, I think it might be fitting that the figure on her pendant has become featureless, as it now feels like a representative of Filomena rather than just being a pendant to the Virgin Mary. 

Photograph of Filomena at 91, taken in 1979.

An Heirloom Ring

Image 1: The ring viewed from slightly above
Image 2: The ring photographed with a quarter.

The object I’ve decided to describe is my great-great-grandmother’s engagement ring. Her name was Edna Greoss, the ring was given to her in 1916 by her husband Geoge Maier. Both of them being from German immigrant families living in Brooklyn, New York. They had one son, Joseph Patrick Maier born on Saint Patrick’s day in 1913. Joseph was their only child as George died fighting a fire in 1919, just three years after their marriage. Edna would wear this ring until her death in 1984 when she was 87. Before she was buried, Joseph took the ring and later gave it to his wife Kathryn Meringolo. When my great-grandmother Kathryn died, her jewelry was divided amongst her children, with my grandma, Arlene Botte receiving Edna’s engagement ring in her share. This would then be given to my mother, Marie, as she is the only one amongst her siblings who cares for jewelry. 

The ring itself is rather simple, with a small diamond and a thin yellow gold band. Starting with the central stone, one can see that the stone is cut in the traditional diamond shape, with a wide, flat head at its top. The diamond’s head is about an ⅛” wide and then angles down slightly at its sides. This then leads directly to where the stone angles into a sharp point at its bottom. The diamond’s width from top to bottom is also about an ⅛”, however is difficult to see within the rings setting. This cut would be very traditional and quite popular in 1916 at the time of its creation. The diamond itself is strikingly clear, however it lacks the same iridescence, exactness, and almost splintered look that may be found in a modern diamond. This is because this diamond was hand cut by the jeweler as opposed to the machine cut diamonds that are popular in engagement rings of the last 50 years.  

Image 3: The ring viewed from fully above.

The setting the diamond is placed in is also rather traditional for the time. The gold prongs that hold the stone snuggly in place rest in four corners, creating a square around the diamond, though the edges are rounded. With the prongs around it the diamond reaches 3/16”. The prongs themselves are segmented into three sections each by two lines cut into the metal. These three segments are all rounded, coming together into one unsegmented strip of metal that connects to the actual band of the ring. On the top and bottom of the ring, between each pair of prongs there are 2 pieces of gold that look as though they would wrap around the prongs, however this is a mostly superficial feature that acts as a visual and protective barrier to the diamond. 

Further describing the setting, one can see directly on either side of the diamond, a separate piece of metal, thicker than the band, though only 1/16”. These pieces of gold reach from the diamond down to the ring’s band. Where it connects to the band, it is wrapped by two thin circles of gold. This piece, what is called the gallery, is what makes up the bulk of the ring’s setting, lifting the ring up slightly from its band. Where it lifts from the band there is a slight gap between the setting and the ring, just large enough that you would be able to see slightly through it. When looking straight at the ring you can also see that this setting is decorated by two lines on either side of the diamond. The lines taper, with them being thickest at the stone, getting thinner as they get closer to the band. 

The band itself is incredibly thin, being barely wider than 1/32”, slightly thinner than a normal iPhone charger. It has slight dents here and there, due to gold being such a soft metal, though it still remains a perfect circle. While there may have once been an original engraving on the inside of the band, that has been lost. This would have happened in the time of Kathryn owning the ring. One can see by the barely visible line in the band that she had the ring made smaller, cutting out the original engraving and later having a small letter “K” engraved into the ring’s side. However, there has been no more interference with the ring’s structure, now resting at a ring size 5, being about ¾” wide overall.

Since we were children, my sister and I debated who would get great-great-grandma Edna’s engagement ring. After many petty arguments the ring has come into my possession. The argument was admittedly solved because it fit me perfectly while it was too small on my sister. However, I am just glad to have such an important heirloom so that I may pass it on to my own children someday.