Assemblies, Cotillions, and Whigs

There are often surprises to be found in collections of family papers.  One such serendipitous discovery among the Bachelder, Curtis, and Kellogg Family Correspondence (RHC-75) is a series of ten invitations to social events held at the Hallowell House in Hallowell, Maine between 1835 and 1840.  All are printed on one side of a folded sheet of paper.  On the back of each is a single line of handwriting, “Miss Curtis,” which suggests that these were delivered by hand rather than sent in the mail.  The recipient was Massachusetts-born Susan Wheelwright Curtis (1818-1855).

Hallowell House
Image courtesy of Penobscot Marine Museum

Hallowell House was a five-storey hotel constructed in 1832 that contained not only rooms, but a restaurant, a ballroom, a bank, and a post office.  The Federal-style building was designed by John D. Lord who supervised the construction of the Maine State Capitol building.  From the invitations it is clear that Hallowell House hosted a variety of community gatherings and events, from grand balls to political assemblies.

Hallowell House invitations

It is most likely that the invitations were printed by the Hallowell firm of Glazier, Masters & Smith who were active in that town between 1820 and the late 1840s, publishing political and religious tracts, proceedings of the Maine legislature, speeches, among others.

Hallowell House invitations

Susan Curtis evidently saved these invitations as souvenirs of enjoyable times.  On a few of them can be discerned a lightly-penciled response, “accepted” or “declined.”  It is of interest to note that the cotillion party of October 1840 was organized by C. G. Bachelder (1810-1871), whom Susan would marry in 1841.  By their very nature as ephemera, these invitations are most probably the only surviving copies.

Hallowell House invitations

Art by an Unknown Medieval Craftsman

Arv-Brv copy

Eusebius Caesariensis (ca. 263-ca. 339) was an early historian of the Christian Church who lived in Caesarea Maritima, located on the eastern Mediterranean coast in what is now Israel.  He became Bishop of Caesarea around 313 and was a prolific writer on many religious topics.  One of his many works that has survived is his De Evangelica Praeparatione (translated as Preparation for the Gospel) in which he attempts to prove the superiority of Christianity in comparison with all other ancient religions.

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There were six editions of De Evangelica Praeparatione printed in the fifteenth century.  Grand Valley State University Libraries’ Special Collections has the edition from 1497 printed in Venice by Bernardinus Benalius.  While not particularly rare, this copy has remarkable illustrated initials at the beginning of each of the book’s fifteen chapters and preface, all different and all executed with supreme skill.  These large blue initials contain fanciful birds, reptiles, amphibians, snakes, monkeys, and other creatures; the background of intricately interlaced red penwork also demonstrates the artistic ingenuity.  The final initial also carries the Christogram, the symbol used as the abbreviation of Jesus Christ; it combines the first two Greek letters in the name Christ (Χριστος), chi (Χ) and rho (Ρ).

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