JJALucyCoinPurseLucy Bakewell Audubon (1787–1874)
Audubon’s coin purse, 1833
Glass, metal, linen, chamois
Gift of Mrs. Edmundo Lassalle, 1970.2

After Audubon became the toast of the town in England, where he was entertained by wealthy aquaintances and members of nobility, he staged road shows to sell subscriptions for The Birds of America. For such occasions Lucy Audubon made this monogrammed, beaded needlepoint coin purse to hold tip money for her husband to give footmen and doormen. Without Lucy’s encouragement and support, Audubon, whom she called “LaForest,” might not have succeeded in his quest. She relieved him of his familial responsibilities, working as a teacher to support the family and sending him whatever she could spare to finance his enterprise. Well-educated and loyal, her independence enabled him to concentrate single-mindedly on his project. As his true partner, she also edited his writings and wrote many of his letters, adding to one: “our great Book demands all our funds, time, and attention, and since I came to England we have not indulged in anything that did not appertain to the advancement and publication of the ‘Birds of America’. . . .”  Often separated during their 43-year marriage, once for three years, Lucy was the emotional center of Audubon’s universe, as well as its manager. During one separation, he wrote: “. . . we are growing older and have been parted so long that I feel as if absent to myself.” Retaining the Quaker forms of his introduction to English in Pennsylvania, he closed another: “Then until we meet bless thee my dearest friend and thy husband forever. John J. Audubon.”

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