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Thread: Belonged to Jefferson's great great grandson

  1. #1

    Belonged to Jefferson's great great grandson

    Sometimes it pays to take a closer at your finds! I found this small silver plated item earlier in the summer but had never bothered to clean it until today. I almost tossed it! A light brushing revealed the name "J. G. Coolidge" and under it "No. Andover" which is the town in Mass where I found it. Turns out he is the nephew of Isabella Stewart Gardner (namesake of the Boston museum infamous for the unsolved art heist of 1990) and the great great grandson of Thomas Jefferson! Apologies for the length, but below is a bio I found on John Gardner Coolidge (1863-1936) for those who are interested. Thanks! -Mr. Digger


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    John Gardner Coolidge (JGC) was born July 4, 1863 in Boston to Joseph Randolph Coolidge and Julia Gardner Coolidge. The second eldest of five sons, he is the great-great grandson of Thomas Jefferson and nephew of Isabella Stewart Gardner. His brothers include Joseph Randolph Jr., Harold Jefferson, Archibald Cary and Julian Lowell.

    JGC attended Chauncy Hall School in Quincy and received his A.B. from Harvard College in 1884. Afterward, he studied for a year at the Bussey Institute at Harvard and worked for a brief time in the office of landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. In 1887, he traveled to the Far East where he remained for three years, living for a time in Japan and then traveling to various countries including China, India, Thailand and Malaysia. From 1890 to 1894, he lived in Brazil where he, "witnessed an interesting period of political development, including six months of fighting between the Army and Navy in the Bay of Rio" From 1895 to 1898, JGC traveled Europe, returning to Boston for the winter months. In July 1898, he journeyed to Cuba where he extensively photographed the Spanish American War, beginning with the sinking of the USS Maine in Havana. He followed the military action to the Philippines and when the war ended, returned home via Samoa, the South Pacific Islands, Australia and New Zealand. In 1900, JGC was appointed Vice Consul to U.S. Consul Adelbert S. Hay in Pretoria, South Africa, during the first year of the Boer War. While there, he photographed Pretoria, soldiers, artillery and the prisons. JGC was appointed Secretary of the U.S. Legation in Peking, China, just after the Boxer Rebellion. He held this position from 1902 to 1906 and while there, made good use of his camera and built-in darkroom by photographing his surroundings. Some of his photos include the rebuilding of the Foreign Legation quarters, the Royal Apartments in the Forbidden Palace, and the changing Chinese cities and countryside. In 1907, JGC was appointed Secretary of the Embassy and Charge d'Affaires in Mexico. Shortly after, in August 1908, he was appointed Minister to Nicaragua, a position he resigned from after three months. On April 29, 1909, John G. Coolidge married Helen Granger Stevens, a family friend and longtime companion to his mother. They were wed at St. Paul's Church, near Ashdale Farm in North Andover, MA. The newlyweds took up residence in Boston and over the next several years, traveled together to Europe and Asia. When World War I broke out, JGC returned to work as a special agent for the Department of State in Paris. The Coolidges remained in Paris during the war years, from 1914 to 1919. Upon his retirement from diplomatic service, JGC authored two books, Random Letters From Many Countries (1924) and A War Diary In Paris, 1914-1917 (1931). Both he and his wife Helen continued traveling abroad and worked on improving their various estates in Boston, North Andover and Squam Lake, NH. On February 28, 1936, John Gardner Coolidge died of pneumonia at the age of 72. He is buried with his family at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, MA.
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    Last edited by Mr. Digger; 09-05-2022 at 07:28 PM.
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  2. #2
    Veteran Member Bucknut's Avatar
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    Wow! Way to go on the research! That is a very interesting piece of history.
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  3. #3
    That's sooooo cool! I bet the N Adams Historical would love that some day! Congrats!!!
    PS The Gardner is one of my fav museums. I remember learning about that heist by looking at the blank spots on the wall and reading about what should have been there.
    On Instagram- oxshoedrew

  4. #4
    Wow, what a great piece of history! I bet you're glad you took a second look at it!

    How fortunate that you didn't toss it. Brilliant idea, posting it next to a Jefferson Nickel.

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  5. #5
    Elite Member Digger_O'Dell's Avatar
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    Very cool find! Great history and fantastic save for sure. It looks to me like a legend plate that would have been mounted on a picture frame or under a painting.
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  6. #6
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    Great find! I learned my lesson about doing a simple cleaning on stuff I am not sure what it is. I keep a "pile" of those finds and clean in the wintertime. Great pull!!!
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  7. #7

    UPDATE: Belonged to Jefferson's great great grandson

    Potential update on this find. I was watching a detecting video on YouTube yesterday that showed an old silver signet style ring being dug and it got me thinking about one I had found many years ago just a few hundred yards from this more recent find that had the name J.G. Coolidge engraved on it. Hey wait...didn't that old ring have initials on it? Sure enough I check and the initials on the ring are J.C. !!! Maybe the same guy? I was blown away. The ring is a man size, is definitely old and has absolutely no markings on the inside whatsoever. To me it looks late 1800's or early 1900's so the time period seems right. I wish I knew what that symbol was above the initials. Any jewelry experts out there able to help with a possible age of this ring?
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    Oldest US coin: 1787 Mass State Copper
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  8. #8
    Very exciting! That has to be the guy. I wonder if it was common to engrave just the 1st and middle names.
    On Instagram- oxshoedrew

  9. #9
    Historic finds! Well done!
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