COLLECTION: Costume Accessories

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Pocketbook with two handwritten letters

Origin: America, Virginia, Richmond Possibly
Closed: 4 3/4 X 7"
Wool, linen, silk, metallic threads
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 2006-155,1
Pocketbook of red, pink, yellow, and green Irish stitch canvas work on natural linen canvas. Pocketbook folds closed with front curved flap and multicolor braided ties. Interior has three pockets of silk and leather, overlaid with green and pink changeable silk and embellished with metallic chain stitch. One pocket is decorated with chain stitches forming an elongated octagon with initials DA centered. The other pocket has elongated octagon with M A/ 1807 embroidered inside the octagon.
Label:Although most of the Irish stitch canvaswork has worn away, this pocketbook encloses important history. The pocketbook carries the initials “DA” for Daniel Atherton (1769-1820), who moved from his native Massachusetts to become Virginia’s master armorer at the Virginia Manufactory of Arms, located on the outskirts of Richmond. Another embroidered set of initials, “MA,” suggest that the pocketbook may have been worked by his mother, Mary Atherton. Documenting important events from his life, letters cherished by his surviving family remained tucked inside his pocketbook until the twenty-first century. In a letter of 1819, a friend suggests that Atherton might wish to apply to become superintendent of the newly formed Kentucky manufactory of arms. Another letter dated 1821 documents the settlement of his estate in Massachusetts, following his 1820 death in Virginia.
Inscription(s):"DA" and "MA 1807"