Eye of the Archives: Quali-tea Artifacts

Now that my building renovation is complete, I’m working on being less self-centered….gulp. Moving forward, I’m going to turn my attention away from myself…gulp…and to items in the very impressive collection that I house. Did you know that the Aspen Historical Society (AHS) operates the largest public archive of images, historical papers, maps, and artifact collections in the region? That’s the reason I feel (am) so important! A big portion of those artifacts are kept safe in my vault, when they’re not out on display that is. Which is always hard for me. I get separation anxiety and miss them terribly. Maybe I should work on being less selfish too… But in the interest of turning over a new leaf and spreading the love, let me tell you about a few brand new artifacts that I’m especially exited about right now.

AHS recently accessioned an antique Gorham repoussé coffee and tea service, a.k.a. a swanky Victorian-era silver tea set, accompanied by an even older silver tray. The new artifacts are so fancy in fact, that they’re going to display them next door in the Wheeler Stallard Museum! I have to say I’m a little jealous of my Victorian neighbor, who will get to admire the beautifully crafted tea set night and day.

The tea and coffee service was made in Providence, Rhode Island in 1887. It’s the whole kit and caboodle: sugar dish, creamer, coffee pot, tea pot, and even a “waste bowl.” The ornate Butler’s Tray is from what the appraisers call a “very desirable period, George III.” Oooooh, classy.

The artifacts were owned by a notable Colorado family, Colonel & Mrs. Channing Meek and their monogram is imprinted on the tea set pieces. Col. Meek was president of Colorado Yule and Marble Company, which provided local marble for many Colorado and U.S. monuments – cool! He lived in Redstone with his wife but died tragically in a hair-raising train accident in 1912. The items were purchased together from a Redstone antique store by Patricia Flug in 1985. Pat recently donated the set to AHS in consideration of the original owner’s connection to the Roaring Fork Valley. Thanks Pat!

Stop in at the Wheeler/Stallard museum soon to view these quali-tea artifacts for yourself. If you want to while you’re here, you can come say hi to me in my fancy new digs next door…

(Archives Building)

Eye of the Archives: Just Call Me A.B. 2.0

Apologies for my absence, I’ve been completely preoccupied basking in the glory of my new and improved self! I’m tempted to bust open the packaging of the 1983 Magnum P.I. whistle from the Aspen Institute time-capsule just so that I can catcall myself… Or maybe I’ll use the 1895 fireman’s trumpet to shout my excitement from the rooftops!

The fan-fair around my completion has been fabulous and really kept me busy. I thought I was popular when a crowd of 75 turned out for my groundbreaking last year, but when over 400 community members showed up for the July party to celebrate my opening I was FLOORED (and they happened to love my new floors, too). There was music, snacks and drinks, and even a ribbon-cutting ceremony to commemorate the completion of my new digs. Guests toured “the Vault,” my underground fortress where thousands and thousands of artifacts, documents, photographs and objects are stored, and were as excited about the security features and improved storage as I am.

Since the party, I’ve hosted several archive appointments, visitors, supporters, and even the press! I feel quite famous. And it’s summer in Aspen so… did I already say busy? I don’t mind though, I’m shiny and new and I’m proud.

Speaking of proud, I’m beaming with pride and gratitude at the hard work and dedication of the Aspen Historical Society staff, the contractors, and you! The generous support of community members like you helped me modernize and beautify. Besides my crowning-glory vault, I’m most excited about the energy-efficient features and the community gallery space. If you ask me, the “Aspen’s Storied History” opening display in the new gallery perfectly encapsulates the spirit of this area. Its community-curated stories are an inspiring reflection of the many treasures I hold within my walls. When octogenarian Ellie Spence came for the opening celebrations and stood next to her picture as the first Winterskol Queen in 1951 I just about sobbed. My cup runeth over!

Whew, it’s been quite a whirlwind of a spring and summer and I have to say, I’m looking forward to the quieter days of fall. But as I know best, history keeps happening so I’ll never rest!

I hope you’ll come visit me soon – you can tour my re-stocked archives during one of my free tours, tomorrow August 9 and again on September 13. Or book an archive appointment to find out the answers to your burning history questions. I have so much to show off after this renovation but the AHS collection is, and always has been, the real star.

With gratitude,
(Archives Building)