The Gertrude Stein Stein

As you may already know, the Special Collections Department houses a number of interesting objects. These objects are tucked away on the shelves with thousands of manuscripts, letters, and books. There is a lot of variety among these objects, we house items such as old cameras, masks, pottery, and paintings. But today, I am going to talk to you about an object that I stumbled upon while perusing the archives that put a big smile on my face.

The Gertrude Stein.

The front of a stein that looks like a woman's face

The face of the Gertrude Stein Stein

A small woman perched on the handle of a stein

Alice perched on the Stein’s handle

I happened upon this beautiful pun completely on accident. Stein was an American novelist born in 1874 whose best-selling book was a memoir entitled The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas. Alice was Stein’s partner up until Stein’s death in 1946, and a tiny figure of her can be seen perched jauntily on the handle of the mug. In case there was any doubt, the figure even has her name, “ALICE”, across her chest. We also have a collection of Alice’s correspondence from 1933-1961, which consists of almost 90 letters written by her.

The mug itself was designed and manufactured by Fitz and Floyd. They are an American serving ware manufacturer that boast over fifty years of hand-crafted, unique designs. I checked it out and their designs have been much less interesting in recent history, which is a real shame. This mug became a part of our collection in 1977. Sometimes, these objects are parts of larger collections and those collections give us more information about where the objects originated. In this situation though, the mug appears to stand alone.

While we do not have anything else received in conjunction with the mug, we do have quite a few other gems in other collections that are much older and more unique than this mug.

Gertrude Stein Annotated Photos and Ephemera is a small collection containing the hand-written notes and typescripts entitled “The Genius of Stein” written by Rachel Smith LoBuono. This manuscripts are undated and unpublished. The collection also contains some letters and stories by and about Stein, and a collection of photographs of Stein and her friends in the 1920’s. Some of the photographs have even been annotated on the back by Stein.

The back of a small photograph with handwritten cursive annotations

Back of photograph with Stein’s cursive annotations

Small photograph of dolls on a table

Small photograph of dolls on a table from the Gertrude Stein Annotated Photographs and Ephemera collection











Of course, we also have some early published work of Stein’s as well. Pictured here is Tender Buttons: Objects, Food, and Rooms. This book was her second and is a collection of poems about everyday subjects. The copy pictured here is a copy published in 1914, the first year that the book was in print.

Picture of a book entitled Tender Buttons

Copy of Tender Buttons

If you’d like to see any of these treasures or some of our many other collections, come visit us in the McFarlin Library Monday through Friday, 8:00-4:30.

About Kelsey Hildebrand

Kelsey is GA in the Special Collections department currently pursuing a Master's in Museum Science and Management.
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