The Influence of Collectors


As his passion for American antiques grew, H. F. du Pont developed a network of relationships with other major collectors and scholars. Many of these people belonged to the Walpole Society, a group founded in 1910 for the “purpose of sharing enthusiasms, exchanging views, and so increasing knowledge of the arts of our early days.” The Walpole Society recognized H. F. du Pont’s contributions as a collector by inviting him to join in 1932. The club included authors and collectors who wrote pioneering works analyzing American antiques by using historic documents. Du Pont consulted his fellow members and their publications when making his collecting decisions.

P48-Winterthur Library Revealed

Walpole Society members in the Sundial Garden at Winterthur
Winterthur, Delaware; 1932
Silver gelatin print
P48 Winterthur Archives

In 1932 Henry Francis du Pont hosted the annual meeting of the Walpole Society. Even these experienced collectors were impressed by the size, quality, variety, and homelike atmosphere of the collections at Winterthur.

NK2406 L81 1901-Winterthur Library Revealed



Colonial Furniture in America
By Luke Vincent Lockwood, published by Charles Scribner’s Sons
New York, New York; 1901
NK2406 L81 Printed Book and Periodical Collection




1958.0530-Winterthur Library Revealed

Attributed to Peter Blin
Wethersfield, Connecticut; 1660–1700
1958.0530 Bequest of Henry Francis du Pont

This chest from the colonial period with its distinctive sunflower carving was purchased by H. F. du Pont before 1938. It is one of a group of chests from Connecticut identified by Walpole Society member Luke Vincent Lockwood. Publications like Lockwood’s Colonial Furniture in America laid the foundation for understanding American furniture of the 1600s.

NK7112 B59-Winterthur Library Revealed


Historic Silver of the Colonies and Its Makers
By Francis Hill Bigelow, published by Macmillan
New York, New York; 1925
Cloth case binding
NK7112 B59 c. 3 Printed Book and Periodical Collection, gift of Stanley B. Ineson


1961.0504-Winterthur Library Revealed



Caudle cup
Made by Robert Sanderson
Boston, Massachusetts; about 1675
1961.0504 Bequest of Henry Francis du Pont

One of the rarest and most important examples of early colonial silver, a caudle cup by Boston silversmith Robert Sanderson graces the cover of Francis Hill Bigelow’s book on American silver. A charter member of the Walpole Society, Bigelow was a collector who wrote the first scholarly study of colonial American silver. H. F. du Pont purchased this caudle cup from him in 1927 and owned this copy of the book.

N5020 N54n -Winterthur Library Revealed

Catalogue of an Exhibition of American Paintings, Furniture, Silver and Other Objects of Art, 1625–1825
By Henry Watson Kent and Florence N. Levy, published by the Metropolitan Museum of Art
New York, New York; 1909
N5020 N54n Printed Book and Periodical Collection

N611 A51h-Winterthur Library RevealedThe Homes of Our Ancestors as Shown in the American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
By R. T. H. Halsey and Elizabeth Tower, published by Doubleday, Page & Company
Garden City, New York; 1925
N611 A51h Printed Book Collection and Periodical Collection

The 1909 catalogue seen here documents an exhibition of American antiques at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. That show was the first to explore the aesthetic as well as historic significance of American decorative arts. Contributors to the exhibition discovered common interests that led to the founding of the Walpole Society, whose members were instrumental in promoting the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s American Wing, which opened in 1924. Those members also supported the 1929 Girl Scouts Loan Exhibition—an extremely important exhibition that helped popularize the study and appreciation of American antiques.

N6507 G52-Winterthur Library Revealed


Girl Scouts Loan Exhibition of Eighteenth- and Early Nineteenth-Century Furniture & Glass
Girls Scouts of the United States of America, printed by Lent and Graff Company
New York, New York; 1929
Paper case binding adhered to later cloth case binding
N6507 G52 Printed Book and Periodical Collection



P112 ovs-Winterthur Library Revealed

Girls Scouts Loan Exhibition (View of American Art Association Galleries, Madison Avenue and 57th Street)
New York, New York; 1929
Silver gelatin print
P112 ovs Winterthur Archives

Although other Walpole Society members were deeply involved, H. F. du Pont was the single largest donor to the Girl Scouts Loan Exhibition of 1929. He helped select objects, install exhibits, and arrange flowers. The federal-period installation seen here includes a New York sideboard and dining and pier tables still in the collections at Winterthur.

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