Relics & Other Objects

Realia-Basket & Tea Set Victorian Traveling Tea Set
Location: Treasure Room

Jean Sherwood, an American art critic, shared tea unknowingly with Robert Browning on a train in Italy in 1889. This wicker basket and its accompanying tea set were used on that occasion. Later, Mrs. Sherwood came to Waco for Dr. A. J. Armstrong's lyceum in 1936 and presented the tea basket to the Browning Collection. Basket is 9 1/4 in. x 5 3/4 in. x 5 1/2 in.; set includes a teapot and burner, tea tin, two enameled pewter cups and saucers, and a small unadorned silver spoon.

BR-Inkstand, Pencil, Hair Dresden Inkstand, Lead Pencil, & Lock of Hair
Location: Research Hall

The elaborately decorated Dresden china inkstand, with three fluted leaves around base, single ink spout, and Oriental brass top, was used by Elizabeth Barrett Browning in their Florentine home, Casa Guidi, after the marriage. The inkstand is 2 7/8 in. high and the brass top is 2 in. high.

The gold-chased mechanical lead pencil was given to Elizabeth Barrett Browning in her youth by her father and is decorated with a Rose of France stone at the end (3/8 in. diam.). The pencil is 4 in. long x 3/16 in. diam.

A replica of a locket worn by Elizabeth Barrett Browning contains a wisp of Browning's hair.

BR-Lace, Mantilla, & Mittens Elizabeth's Lace Pieces
Location: Treasure Room

These black lace fingerless mittens are 8 5/8 in. in length and reflect Elizabeth Barrett Browning's diminuative size. These gloves would have been appropriate for use in chapel.

Black lace floral pattern with two scalloped ties, designed to be pinned to the hair rather than tied. The main piece of the mantilla is a square section with rounded corners that measures 11 in. x 11 in. Attached to opposite corners are two 13 in. lace ties with scalloped borders that vary in width from 4 in. to 3 3/4 in. The mantilla and the accompanying mittens were acquired through the Sir Wilfred Meynell Collection in 1948, along with EBB's fan and a small cream pitcher.

Black lace with repeated solid pattern floral design on mesh; approximately 7 ft. long and over 6 in. wide. The edging is a companion piece to the Victorian Picture Case in regards to its provenance. Both items came to the Library in 1968, the gift of Ruth Borchardt, Curator of Casa Guidi

Realia-RB Oil Lamp Robert Browning's Oil Lamp
Location: Entrance Foyer

Oil Lamp
The lamp, which has a long handle for carrying, stands 26 1/4 in. high with a 6 1/4 in. diam. base. It has four extensions for wicks and a set of small tools hanging conveniently from chains for trimming, cleaning, pulling, and snuffing. Believed to be of Venetian or Turkish design, the lamp was promised to Margaret Keep, a close friend of Browning's, upon his death. Browning had developed a close friendship with Miss Keep during the last two years of his life. His daughter-in-law Fannie Coddington Browning sent the lamp to Miss Keep in 1889. The Armstrong Browning Library purchased the lamp from Dorothy Grant.

Realia-RB Inkwell Robert Browning's Inkwell
Location: Entrance Foyer

This thickly carved, lobed walnut burl-wood inkstand can be seen on Browning's desk in Felix Moscheles' painting, Robert Browning's Study. It has an indention for pen storage and a glass inkwell; 11 1/2 in. x 8 in. x 5 in. The inkwell is on loan from Mills College, California.

Realia-EBB Fan Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Fan
Location: EBB Salon

Folding fan, dark green muslin with gold border, on 15 wooden braces, 15 in. x 8 in. when opened; inscribed in unidentified hand: "E.B.B. 1859. Rome." It is visible lying on a chair in George Mignaty's painting, Salon at Casa Guidi, which was commissioned by Browning shortly after his wife's death in 1861. The fan was acquired through the Sir Wilfred Meynell Collection in 1948, along with EBB's lace mittens and mantilla and a small cream pitcher.

Realia-Laurel Leaves Laurel Leaves from Robert Browning's Funeral
Location: Research Hall

Gift of Lady Teresa Berwick, Attingham Park, Shrewsbury, England, who found the leaves among the papers of her mother, Mrs. Zina Hulton. She had received them from Mrs. Katharine deKay Bronson, a close friend of Browning from 1880 to 1889. The leaves, which Mrs. Bronson had saved from the wreath on RB's casket, range in length from 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 in. and are preserved in a glassed wooden frame which measures 5 in. x 11 1/2 in.

Realia-Letter Box Letter Box
Location: Research Hall

A small wooden letter box, covered with an embroidered fabric and lined inside with green silk, 9 1/4 in. x 6 in. x 2 in. Robert Browning's initials are embroidered a total of 24 times on the top and sides; it is believed to have been used as a letter box at Casa Guidi.

Realia-Letter Tray Letter Tray
Location: EBB Salon

This mahogany letter tray on Chippendale bracket feet, with flared sides, belonged to Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Overall, the piece, decorated with carved pierced hand holds, stands 9 1/2 in. x 7 1/2 in. x 4 1/2 in. The upper tray is 7 1/2 in. x 5 1/2 in. x 2 in. In the lower portion, an integral drawer, with brass pull, measures 7 1/2 in. x 5 in. x 1 in.

Realia-Picture Case Victorian Picture Case
Location: Research Hall

Pine frame, covered with leather, velvet, and dark brown paper; 5 3/8 in. x 7 1/8 in. x 3/4 in.; holds a small print of the Fox-Bridell portrait of Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1858). It was in Elizabeth's possession at Casa Guidi and was a gift from her to Pen. He presented it to Ersilia Nardini, a member of his household staff. The case was given to the Library in 1968 by Ruth Borchardt, Curator of Casa Guidi.

Realia-Single Rose A Single Rose Sent in Robert's Love Letter to Elizabeth
Location: Treasure Room

A single rose, grown in Browning's mother's garden at Hatcham, South London, was sent in a love letter from Robert Browning to Elizabeth Barrett:

...this hot day draws out our very first yellow rose. 14 June 1845.

Realia-Snuff Box Robert Browning's Snuff Box
Location: Research Hall

A Georgian silver, crescent-shaped, engine-turned snuff box made by John Lawrence & Co. of Birmingham in 1797, with "R.B." engraved on the lid, measures 2 1/2 in. x 1 3/4 in. x 3/4 in. It was reputedly given by Browning's daughter-in-law, Fannie Coddington Browning, to John Ruskin and was still in his possession at his death in 1900.

Realia-Door Knocker Doorknocker
Location: Treasure Room

A fifteenth-century doorknocker, in the form of a large wrought-iron ring and spike, was used at Palazzo Dario, Venice, where Pen Browning resided briefly before moving to Palazzo Rezzonico. The ring is 3 7/8 in. x 3 3/4 in., with a spike 4 1/2 in. long.

Realia-Edelweiss Blossoms Edelweiss Blossoms
Location: Treasure Room

Four blossoms, under glass, in a decorated wooden box which measures 4 in. x 2 3/4 in. x 1 3/8 in. A note by A.J. Armstrong inside the lid, undated and unsigned, reads--

Edelweiss picked by Robert Browning at St. Moritz Switzerland in 1884, and sent by him to Mrs. Katharine deKay Bronson. Given to Dr. A. J. Armstrong in 1927 by her daughter Princess Editha Rucellai in Florence.