February 9, 1852

 

Boston_art_club_design_wm_emerson

Architectural Rendering of Boston Art Club, ca. 1882

Feb 9th  Monday  Went to Boston with Oliver  spent

the forenoon in looking at pictures.  dined at

Mr Orrs.  Afternoon Mrs Stevens & Mrs Morse

went with us to look at pictures.  purchased 

two engravings one of them painted  returned to

Mr Orrs and spent the evening in playing 

cards  Very fine weather

Evelina’s boring Sunday in North Easton gave way to a few fun days of shopping in Boston. Leaving Jane McHanna to manage the house in her absence, she traveled into the city accompanied by her middle son, Oliver (3), the only son who wasn’t working. The two of them spent the day looking at “pictures” – prints and paintings, probably – and ended up buying two engravings. That one was “painted” meant that it had been hand-colored.

Where did they shop? At a gallery? At an artist’s studio? Amory Hall on Washington Street was one facility that accommodated artists at the time.Who was selling engravings in 1852? Readers, do you know?

It’s hardly arbitrary that Oliver (3) was the son who shopped for art with his mother. Besides being the only male in the family at liberty to take his mother into town, Oliver (3) loved art. He would collect paintings, prints and sculpture all through his life, in fact, especially after he and Anna C. Ray had married and built their large homes in North Easton and Boston. Before becoming governor, Oliver (3) traveled a great deal as a salesman for O. Ames and Sons and, in the process, bought art for himself at galleries in New York City and elsewhere. In the 1880s, he was also president of the Boston Art Club, an artists’ consortium begun in 1854 – 1855 that expanded to include wealthy patrons such as Oliver Ames.

February 3, 1852

 

playingcards

Union soldiers playing whist, circa 1861

1852 Feb

Tuesday 3d Have been looking over the boys shirts and 

have mended some of them.  Fred carried me

to call on Augustus’s wife, called at Mr Torreys

an[d] Mrs J Williams engaged her to make some shirts

for Oliver  Mr & Mrs Williams passed the evening

here.  Have done but very little sewing

The boys & Joshua played cards.

Chess wasn’t the only game that people played in the 19th century.  As Evelina noted today, her sons and a friend named Joshua played cards. Perhaps Fred Ames played, too. The game they preferred was whist, a precursor of today’s contract bridge.

Whist was played according to rules established by the accepted authority, Edmond Hoyle, an Englishman in the 18th century who had codified explicit guidelines for various card games.  Whist followed “a rigid set of rules, etiquette and techniques.”** Like bridge, it required four players, one deck of 52 cards (then known as a French deck), a bidding process, and trick taking.  Trump was determined by the last card laid down and, unlike bridge, there was no dummy hand.

The Ames family loved playing whist.  Oliver (3) often writes in his early journals of playing whist with his grandfather, Old Oliver. Night after wintry night, the men would play, the grandsons occasionally beating their grandfather.  Evelina seldom writes of playing herself; she and her sisters-in-law usually sat to the side, conversing, sewing or reading.

 

www13thmass.org/1861/williamsport

** http://www.kristenkoster.com/2012/02/a-regency-primer-on-how-to-play-whist/