The Gifts

The Gifts

These gifts all signify power, in that Elizabeth Powel as the gift giver could create what she viewed as the most upstanding type of citizen. She had an understanding of the evolution of the country, and how important the future would be, which would involve preparing the next generation of individuals to carry forth with good morals and skills. It also would show her important legacy. She could do this in specific acts - engraving pieces, making copies of correspondence, making goods herself, and comissioning gifts for people based upon things she already owned.

These are the reasons I found for her gift giving I discovered in looking through her account books and correspondence to pick out mentions of gifts:


1. Anniversaries

2. Patriotism

3. Physical appearance

2. Social connections

5. Encouraging education

There  is overlap between the themes, which I will look into further in a larger project. Her financial means greatly assist her ability to buy fine goods for the receivers. She spares no expense for any of the gifts, regardless of the purpose. This shows the care she had for her family, and the importance a legacy of power and prestige was for Elizabeth. She only wanted to put her name on the finest things.I was only able to do a small sampling, but for a larger project I would expand into other themes and other specific gifts.

Questions for a larger project:

1. As this project is limited to an elite woman with a large amount of primary source records, how can the gift giving practices of those with less records, or of different financial status also be traced? Do those trends match up with similar sentiments to Elizabeth Powel's?

2. What do the makers of the goods signify?