Extremely Rare and Unique Gift by JEB Stuart When a West Point Cadet to a Lady Friend
Extremely Rare and Unique Gift by JEB Stuart When a West Point Cadet to a Lady Friend – This grouping is comprised of the following impressive and historically significant elements: a handwritten note, composed by JEB Stuart, while at West Point, sent to the daughter of his French professor; a beautifully embellished and engraved gold thimble in its original, custom made leather covered and velvet lined case; a note from the thimble and note recipient, object of Stuart’s ardor, with the stems of flowers picked during a walk with Stuart.
The note from Stuart, signed “Beauty” (his moniker while at West Point), is one page, on period stationery. The note proper, triangular in shape, measuring 2.5” x 2.5”, is affixed, via a straight pin, to a second piece of plain paper which measures: 4.5” x 2.5”. The note is dated “1854”, in pencil, on the larger sheet, above a note, written by the recipient, Minnie Berard Swartwout. The pin holds a small twig of what appears to be an arbutus stem. Stuart’s inscription says: “Miss Minnie, A young Virginia guest. Treat him well for Beauty’s sake.” Miss Minnie Berard Swartwout penned on the larger, backing sheet: “Sent to me by Mr. Stewart(sic).”
The accompanying note from Minnie reads as follows:”Epigea gathered around flirtation taking a walk with Mr. Stuart.” Two twigs of epigea or arbutus, both approximately 2” in length, are inserted to the right of the note, through two small cuts in the paper. This note is accompanied by a second note, written by Minnie’s daughter, identified in pencil, at the lower edge, as “Miss Katherine / note – ‘Epigea’ is the / botanical name for / an arbutus.”; this note measures 4” x 3.5”. Also accompanying this note is an envelope, measuring 4.5” x 3.5”, inscribed “Miss Katherine”, at the lower edge, in pencil, in an unknown hand. Contained in this envelope is a handwritten note, with the name “Katharine G. Swartwout, on the front, stating: “Flowers gathered by Minnie Berard walking with Gen. Stuart.”
The gold thimble, gifted by JEB Stuart to Minnie Berard, measures 7/8 “ in height and approximately ½ “ in diameter, at the open end. The thimble exhibits seven ornate panels; the eighth, unembellished blank area is engraved with the name “Minnie”. The thimble is housed in its original, custom-made leather box with clasp. These two items are accompanied by a handwritten statement, signed “Katharine Swartwout”, on letterhead stationery, denoting the following: “This picture of Gen. J.E.B. (Beauty) Stewuart or Stuart was given to my mother Minnie (Berard) Swartwout by him and also a gold thimble in the (original case) when he was a Cadet at West Point at about 1857.”
Included with this fine grouping, is a newspaper clipping, from The Morning Press of Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, dated October 29, 1952, noting the recent passing of Miss Katherine (sic) Swartwout, at age 92, and recollections from someone who knew her. Some of the significant passages in the article have been highlighted in yellow; for example: “Many of Miss Katherine’s young and happy days were spent at West Point where her grandfather was professor of French. Many a child spending long evenings in her home has heard from her how General Grant would take tea with her aunt when he was a student at the Military Academy. She owned a silver (gold) thimble, a Valentine and an ancient daguerreotype, gifts from Gen. J.E.B. Stuart, of the Confederate Army, a onetime suitor of her mother. The daguerreotype was a picture of the general, ‘Beauty’ they called him.”
All of the above listed elements in the important grouping remain in superior condition.