Thursday, September 8, 2022

Remembering W. M. & C. -- and not for Nott


This lovely pencil arrived not long ago but to my frustration I could not recall what the letters "W. M & C" stood for. No luck with a Google search, nor checking Jon Veley's indispensible site. It was Jon who finally set me straight though, pointing me to . . . my own blog post here on Thomas Addison. Ouch.

At least I remembered that the "W" was for "Wilmarth". That alone should have sent me back to my research notes. Anyway, Wilmarth, Moffat & Curtis was the short-lived partnership that succeeded the partnership of Thomas Addison & Co. as of August 1, 1829. It apparently ended with the death of Jonathan Wilmarth on September 26, 1835, though another Wilmarth – William M. –  subsequently formed a new partnership with Addison, doing business as Addison, Wilmarth & Co. up until c. 1843. In 1849 Moffat and Curtis sailed for San Francisco, where Moffat won lasting fame among numismatists and California Gold Rush historians for his gold ingots and coins.

What first caught my eye about this pencil, though, was the seal end. It was clearly a portrait, not an idealized classical bust. Before the pencil arrived it seemed likely it might be someone prominent enough that someone might recognize the image. The task was considerably simplified, however, by the discovery upon arrival that the pencil had been engraved with the name, "Mrs. Howard Nott".

While the identification is for now tentative, it seems probable that this pencil belonged to Margaretta Matilda Stewart Bowers Nott (1810 – 1876), who in 1831 married Howard Nott (1809 – 1880), the son of polymath Eliphalet Nott (June 25, 1773 – January 25, 1866; described by Wikipedia as "a famed Presbyterian minister, inventor, educational pioneer, and long-term president of Union College, Schenectady, New York"). Though I have not yet been able to find any portraits of Howard Nott, pictures of his father show a decided resemblance to the profile of the pencil seal bust.

Margaretta Nott was buried in Brooklyn, at The Evergreens Cemetery on Bushwick Avenue. No photos online, but it is now on my list of historical graves to visit in the greater New York area.