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See the best traditional artists in America
For those who read or want to write for the magazine
Small actions often lead to unexpected
outcomes in the course of our lives, if we
take the time to recognize and appreciate
them. Looking back at my time with the
magazine, for instance, reminds me that
finding a career that merged my passions
for editing, writing, proofreading, and
American history started with a simple letter.
In this issue, the story of young love in the early 1800s
started similarly when Jonathan Wheeler, a Massachusetts
store clerk, wrote to Elisabeth Davenport, daughter
of an affluent farmer in a nearby town, seeking to rekindle
a previous acquaintance.
A recently discovered cache of letters between the
two, written over the span of more than a year, traces how
their reconnection blossomed into a marriage proposal as
the couple navigated changing social expectations of what
courtship and marriage meant. Perhaps in an effort to
convince Elisabeth of his intentions, Jonathan gifted her
with small tokens of affection.
One such token is the focus of our antiques story,
which looks at small, often hand-held, looking glasses that
a young suitor in the 18th or 19th Century might have
purchased for his beloved. Dubbed &ldqou;courting mirrors” by
antiques collectors and dealers, the mirrors came from
northern Europe before creative woodworkers began
making them in America.
Surprisingly, though courting mirrors turn up frequently
in antiques shops and at auction, little is known of
their history. They come in myriad variations and usually
sell for three figures, making them affordable and charming
additions to your period home.
As a young mother, Lorraine Kamp likely had different
aspirations for her Ohio home until a truncated
vacation introduced the entire family to 18th-Century
architecture and antiques. She fell in love with the New
England saltbox, convinced husband Jim they should
build a reproduction, and began filling it with antiques.
They invited us in to see the results.
Illinois artisan Stacee Droit, best known for her
beautifully crafted Santa figures, each with his own personality,
decided to change her surroundings by building
a new log cabin to house her collection of early primitive
antiques, especially anything painted blue. We also share
her cozy new home.
Elsewhere in this issue you can experience the merriment
of a traditional English Twelfth Night, as celebrated
by one of the richest men in the American colonies. Pottsgrove
Manor, the home of Pennsylvania ironmaster John
Potts, invites visitors behind the scenes to watch the family
and their servants prepare for a party focused on food
We also take an in-depth look at two current
exhibitions. One explores the fascination historians
and visitors have always held for the witch frenzy that
engulfed Salem Village in the late 1600s, and how that
trauma still echoes among the descendants of those
accused. The other takes a more nuanced look at American-
made quilts and the messages their makers conveyed
within their respective time periods, from the 1700s
In exploring these topics, I enjoy finding unexpected
connections, such as learning that Karen Kashary, who
penned tips for roasting meat in a tin kitchen, is related to
John Potts. We hope you find some small delights in this
issue that fulfill your expectations.