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…

Best,
A.B.
(Archives Building)

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