Monogram on Parasol Handle, WHC 0083.035.0002
This is the handle of a parasol. Like many articles in the museum’s collections it was accepted with very little documentation as to where it came from. The official deed of gift reads: “Handle for parasol – pearl on gold.” While it is pretty and unique, this doesn’t do a lot for us when we are trying to tell its story or put it on display. When I sit down to write a label I need to be able to answer basic questions like how old is it or who owned it? Also, as our storage areas become crowded, we are constantly asking “why is this piece worth keeping?” Determining if it has any connection to the Mid-Valley is one of the first criteria for keeping and preserving it. So the research begins, and it isn’t always very easy.
Luckily, this piece came with a clue to help us wade through the documentation. The end of the piece is monogramed with the letters “C.E.F.” Also, luckily, this piece has an original deed of gift claiming the materials were donated by “Eline Croisan Farmer and Edna Farmer Day” through an intermediary.
Armed with these facts we started scouring the historic record for clues for Eline Croisan Farmer and surprisingly came up empty handed. The closest match was a Clara Ellen Croisan Farmer, whose initials C.E. F. more closely match the monogram on the handle than the purported Eline Croisan Farmer (E.C.F). Furthermore, the style of the parasol handle with the fancy script and use suggests a 19th century piece. This seemingly fits with Clara Ellen’s timeline (born 1862, married 1883, died 1957).
So now we have a theory to go on. Now if we could just find a connection between Clara Ellen Farmer and Edna Farmer Day to help support it with the paperwork. The 1920 US Census records show an Edna Farmer age 26, married to a Clifford E. Farmer in Salem, Oregon.