Every once in a while, I think about my curiosity and what it means and how it shows itself. At the risk of sounding self absorbed, what makes “my” curiosity so unique?
What immediately comes to mind is that when I see something that interests me, I want to find out more. My Not So Curious husband hears or sees something, finds it interesting for that moment and that’s it. Not me. I write it down, then go to the web and explore.
Turns out I’ve done it all my life. As a child, I can remember sitting at the dinning room table and some subject would come up, something would not be clear, and my father would immediately say, “Ge the Encyclopedia and look it up.” And so, I (or my sister) would go to the den, find the right volume of the Encyclopedia Britannica, bring it to the table, and we would find out more.
So this curiosity plus, as I call it, has a long history.
Last week, we were watching Antiques Roadshow and a butterfly inkstand from Tiffany Studios was featured. The expert said it was designed by Clara Driscoll and the so called, “Tiffany Girls”. Who and what was that? Off I went to my modern day Encylopedia — the web.
Clara Wolcott Driscoll was a fascinating woman. She was born in Tallmadge, Ohio, now a suburb of Akron, but at the time, a rural community in northeast Ohio. This part of Ohio was called the Western Reserve and was actually once part of Connecticut! The land was given to veterans of The Revolutionary War as a reward for their service and many of the towns in the area still look like they belong in New England, with small village greens and white clapboard houses.
Like two other women that I profiled here, Mary Parker Follett and Alice Schille, she lived in a very interesting time for women — the late 19th and early 20th century. She was younger than Mary and Alice, born in 1861 and living until 1944, but the changes taking place for women at that time had a strong influence on her life.
She graduated from what was then called the Western Reserve School of Design for Women in 1884 and went to New York. She joined Tiffany Studios shortly thereafter, but when she married, she had to leave their employ, as was customary in those days. When she was widowed a short time later, she came back to Tiffany and was put in charge of the women who did the majority of the cut glass work, the Tiffany Girls.
She was an amazing designer, and to his credit, Louis Tiffany respected and used her designs which are “classic” Tiffany. Here’s some examples of her work.
The butterfly inkstand was the item on Antiques Roadshow. I forgot to write down the estimated value. I couldn’t find this exact piece on the web, but a fish mosaic inkstand also designed by Clara Wolcott Driscoll was estimated to sell at between $50,000 to $70,000. At the same auction, the wisteria lamp was estimated to sell at between $175,000 and $250,000!