As part of the bicentennial celebrations at Norwich University, the Sullivan Museum and History Center on the campus is hosting the exhibition 200 Years—200 Objects, which highlights objects from the school’s private collection. The objects both shock and awe, as well as providing a keyhole view into history. Here, the curator of the exhibition, Katherine Taylor-McBroom, samples eight of the 200 treasures on display.
Embroidered Icelandic Collar (c. 1850) This unique embroidered collar, also called a halskrage, was worn by Icelandic women in Reykjavik between the 18th and 19th centuries. The collar, possibly worn on special occasions, is made from wool and adorned with blue silk threading. The collar was donated by an alum and most likely purchased on his many travels. Estey Organ (1890–1892) The Estey Organ Company in Brattleboro, was the largest reed organ manufacturer in the world. Founded by Jacob Estey (1814- 1890) the company produced more than 500,000 organs between 1853 and 1960. Estey’s son, Julius Jacob Estey (1845–1902), attended Norwich from 1861 to 1862, withdrawing from school to begin work in the family business, later becoming president of the company after his father’s death in 1890. Tiffany & Company Presentation Sword (1861–1865) Tiffany & Company is usually known for creating fine jewelry and silver, but during the Civil War, the company took the opportunity to make stunning ceremonial presentation swords. The sword in this exhibition, made of ivory, gold, and steel was given to Brig. Gen. Jos, A. Mower by his officers of the 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division. Since it would have required a great deal of money to purchase such a sword, it is obvious Mower was loved by his men. Japanese Teacup (c. 19th century) Several cracks and wear on this Japanese teacup seem to show its journey from France through WWII with its eventual donation to the museum by Medal of Honor recipient Capt. James Burt (Class of 1939). The teacup arrived in a round Christmas cookie tin with a note from Burt, “From a German Soldier eating breakfast in a French farmhouse who couldn’t reach his gun…” Native American Sioux tribe tobacco bag (c. 1873–1879) Native American tobacco bags are considered sacred and contain items such as tobacco, pipes, bowls, stones, or medicines typically used in prayer and healing rituals. In the center of this heavily quilled and beaded bag is a buffalo image often attributed to the Sioux people of the Lakota, Dakota, Nakota tribes in Minnesota. Since the Sioux relied upon the buffalo for food, clothing, and shelter, the animal is considered divine for giving its life to provide sustenance and warmth. Handwritten note signed by President Abraham Lincoln (c. 1864) A small piece of paper measuring about 3″ X 6″ with a scrawled note that reads “Respectfully submit this to the Secretary of the Navy. A. Lincoln,” frequently surprises visitors. This note was included with a Spencer carbine rifle as a gift from President Abraham Lincoln to Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles (Class of 1836). This note is displayed alongside the rifle in the current exhibition. The Wilson Globe (c. 1817) Capt. Alden Partridge, founder of Norwich University, purchased this large Wilson Globe in 1820 for instructional purposes for the cadets of the American Literary, Scientific, and Military Academy. James Wilson (1763–1855) of Bradford, Vermont, was America’s first globe maker and his company James Wilson & Co. located in Albany, New York. One of the earliest instructional pieces in the collection, this celestial globe is made from paper and wood dates around 1817. Portrait of a Cadet (1827) The identity of the Norwich cadet in this oil portrait by artist has been a something of a mystery for some time. The artist Julian Parisen completed a pair of life size portraits in 1827—the cadet portrait and a young woman who could possibly be his sister, both of which are in the exhibition. The shako the cadet is reaching for in the foreground is the type oworn by cadets who attended Captain Partridge’s American Literary, Scientific, and Military Academy in Middletown, Connecticut.