Lot 126: [Poe, Edgar Allan]. Collection of Poe memorabilia including his fiancée's engagement ring
December 18, 2012
Calabasas Hills, CA, USALive Auction
126. [Poe, Edgar Allan]. Collection of Poe memorabilia including his fiancée’s engagement ring, a lock of his hair, family correspondence, photographic portraits, including one of Poe, and a silver spoon; all enclosed in a half morocco clamshell box with elaborately tooled spine, raised bands, red morocco labels, inset red morocco label on front cover. The letters and photographs are in an album within the box, inside the box there are three recesses housing the gold ring, the lock of hair and the spoon.
A rare collection of Poe memorabilia direct from descendants of Edgar Allan Poe, includes a lock of his hair.
The collection consists of: family correspondence; a small gold engagement ring inscribed inside “Edgar”; a small lock of Poe’s hair; five Poe family carte de visite portraits including one of the poet, his aunt and mother-in-law, Maria Poe Clemm, his cousin Elizabeth Herring Smith, and his first cousin once removed Eliza Poe Chapman Haydon; and a small daguerreotype portrait of Poe’s sister Rosalie Mackenzie Poe. The correspondence and other documents are from the family of Poe’s aunt Eliza Poe Herring and include letters by Maria Poe Clemm and Rosalie Poe. There is also a silver spoon which had some sentimental significance for the Poe family. This is explained in an accompanying document by a member of the Poe family. All of these pieces come directly through the family of Poe’s aunt Eliza Poe Herring (1792-1822) and her daughter Emily V. Herring Chapman Beacham (1822-1908). The ring is accompanied by a statement signed by Mrs. Beacham’s four great grandchildren after the death of their mother, Mrs. Beacham’s daughter Eliza. “The Poe ring was given to Mrs. Emily Virginia Beacham by Edgar Allan Poe’s sister Rosalie Mackenzie Poe [who received it directly from Poe’s fiancée Elmira Royster Shelton] in 1865 at Baltimore Maryland...Mrs. Beacham gave the ring to her only child, a daughter by her first husband, Nathan Chapman. This daughter, Eliza Poe Chapman, married in 1858 at Baltimore, John Henry Nathan Chapman. The rest of the statement traces the family Haydon’s history and brings the provenance of the ring up to date.
The actual history of the ring is interesting and significant as well as sad. Poe and Elmira Royster Sheldon were childhood sweethearts before his enrollment at the University of Virginia. According to Mrs. Shelton, her father intercepted Poe’s letters to her, in effect terminating their romance. Meeting again after many years, during which she had been married and widowed (and a series of tragic relationships for Poe complicated by his alcoholism) their romance began again in the summer of 1849 and thus they became engaged. Poe presented her with this ring. Though Poe had sworn off drinking and had even joined the Richmond Sons of Temperance, he was to die later that year after being found semi-conscious on the streets of Baltimore.
Memorabilia relating to Poe is excessively rare and the present collection is of great sentimental significance.