Collections 2017-05-16T15:01:40+00:00

Overview of the Collection

Margaret Tobin Brown was born to Irish immigrants John and Johanna Tobin in 1867 in Hannibal, Missouri. The Tobins were part of a wave of immigration following the first period of industrialization in America. Hannibal was a diverse community where Margaret was exposed to a variety of people and interests and where her parents found a group of like-minded Irish Catholic immigrants who supported both freedom and equality.

The Tobins had progressive views that valued education, even for their daughters. Margaret attended school until age 13 and the lessons she learned from her parents stayed with her throughout her life, guiding her drive for personal growth and her commitment to participating in the world around her.

Margaret also encountered the struggles of the laboring class when she began working in a factory at age 13. Long days, low wages and instability characterized the lives of many in her community, including her father. One of her dreams, shaped by Hannibal’s status as a major transportation hub, was to move west. Margaret and her brother Daniel followed personal dreams and the national chain of migration to Leadville, Colorado.

Donations

If you have an object you wish to donate that has provenance linking it to Margaret and James Joseph Brown or their families, please email photographs along with any information you have on the item, especially its provenance, to Stephanie McGuire, Curator of Collections, at smcguire@mollybrown.org.

If you have an object you wish to donate that is significant to Colorado’s past, we suggest you contact the History Colorado Center at 303-866-2305.

If you have an object you wish to donate to a museum, please contact either the Mountain-Plains Museum Association or the Colorado-Wyoming Association of Museums at:
Mountain-Plains Museums Association (MPMA)
Email: mountplains@aol.com

Colorado-Wyoming Association of Museums (CWAM)
Email: website@cwam-us.org

Fashion Collection

Our Fashion Collection is a 2000-item collection that includes hats, dresses, shoes, parasols, and many other garments and accessories from the Victorian and Edwardian periods. This collection helps us tell the story of Margaret Brown, who often made local newspaper headlines for her elaborate fashion sense. She wore the latest styles from Europe and Asia, and she often set the trend for Denver women’s fashion.

Margret Brown's pearl ring

Margaret Brown’s pearl and amethyst ring

Date: Unknown

Description: Gold band ring with four amethysts surrounding a pearl.

Provenance: Mrs. Brown eventually gave this ring to her niece Minnie Brown, daughter of J. J. Brown’s brother, James Kevin Brown. J. K. Brown’s granddaughter, Lorraine Brown, donated the ring to the museum.

Margaret Brown’s ruby earrings

Margaret Brown’s ruby earrings

Date: Unknown

Description: Screw on earrings with a circular setting: ruby in the center surrounded by 10 diamond chips in gold setting.

Provenance: Mrs. Brown eventually gave these earrings to her sister-in-law, Mary Brown. Mary Brown’s granddaughter, Lorraine Brown, donated the earrings to the museum.

Margaret Brown’s gold watch

Margaret Brown’s gold watch

Date: Unknown

Description: A gold hunting watch with a pin and chain for wearing it around the neck. Both back facings open to a clock with roman numerals and a second hand. Stamps read, “Keystone Watch Case. Scales 7193387. American Waltham Watch Company 12297762.”

Provenance: Mrs. Brown eventually gave this watch to her niece Minnie Brown, daughter of J. J. Brown’s brother, James Kevin Brown. J. K. Brown’s granddaughter, Lorraine Brown, donated the watch to the museum.

Margaret Brown’s purse

Margaret Brown’s purse

Date: Unknown

Description: Green barrel and bugle beaded pouch purse, with a green cloth lining, cloth top and loop closing with a loop tassel at the bottom.

Provenance: Mrs. Brown eventually gave this purse to her sister-in-law. Mrs. Brown’s great-niece, Lorraine Brown, donated the purse to the museum.

Green Satin Shoes

Green satin shoes

Date: 1925-1935

Description: Green satin sandals with small rhinestone buckles. Open vamp with grosgrain ribbon.

Provenance: Unknown

riding coat

Riding coat

Date: 1878-1898

Description: Black and brown checked full-length wool riding coat. Princess seamed with split up the back and double breasted buttons. Long sleeves with attached capelet.

Provenance: Unknown

Furniture Collection

The museum’s Furniture Collection consists of antique sofas, dressers, bed frames, kitchen appliances, and more that date from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Each piece of furniture aids visitors in learning about the life and times of the unsinkable Margaret “Molly” Brown who lived in this home at 1340 Pennsylvania Street.

Helen Brown’s four-poster bed

Helen Brown’s four-poster bed

Date: 1840-1860

Description: Red mahogany full size bed in neo-classic design with fluted posts that taper slightly, and are divided by baluster turnings which terminate in Corinthian capitals. The headboard is simple and graceful with a bell-shaped curve and molded edge. The cornice of the tester is a combination of overhanging molding decorated with brackets of ornate design, alternating with a motif of draped ribbon and flower swags. The canopy is under-covered with blue silk gathered in the center with a fluffy rosette, and the bed hangings are light blue silk brocade. This four-poster bed is an example of nineteenth-century machine craftsmanship.

Provenance: The bed originally belonged to the Browns in their Denver home, and was used in Helen’s room. The bed was purchased by the donor from Lockwood Antiques in Colorado City.

Brown’s horsehair sofa

Brown’s horsehair sofa

Date: 1870-1890

Description: Sofa upholstered in horsehair with a Victorian Renaissance Revival style serpentine back with removable crest. Arm facings have acanthus leaf carvings.

Provenance: The sofa belonged to the Browns when they lived in Leadville. They gave the sofa to Mrs. Brown’s brother-in-law, J.K. Brown, before they moved Denver. Cornelia Kaiser Metz, daughter of Henry Kaiser who rented 1340 Pennsylvania from Mrs. Brown, donated the sofa to the museum.

Henry Teller’s roll-top desk

Henry Teller’s roll-top desk

Date: 1865-1885

Description: Walnut desk with burled walnut panels and a burl and birdseye maple trim. The desk has a machine carved gallery in an open leaf pattern, below which are 4 raised burl veneer panels. The desk is decorated throughout with incised machine carved lines and applied ornaments.

Provenance: The original owner of the desk was Henry Moore Teller, United States Senator from Colorado. It was donated to the museum by a relative of Edwin Stanton, who served as Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of War.

J. J. Brown’s Daybed

J. J. Brown’s Daybed

Date: Unknown

Description: Empire style mahogany daybed with curved arms at each end and slightly curved legs. The bed has a mahogany veneer and patterned upholstery cover.

Provenance: The daybed originally belonged to the Brown family. Cornelia Kaiser Metz, daughter of Henry Kaiser who rented 1340 Pennsylvania from Mrs. Brown, donated the daybed to the museum.

Margaret Brown’s Capehart radio Preview

Margaret Brown’s Capehart radio

Date: 1932-1936

Description: Capehart Radio-Phone Model 405 D Serial # 6576 E with Chippendale Cabinet.

Provenance: In 1932, Margaret Brown preordered a new Chippendale Capehart Radio from a local store in Denver called Knight-Campbell to replace her old radio. Unfortunately Mrs. Brown died later that year and was never able to enjoy the radio. Her daughter-in-law Mildred, Lawrence Brown’s wife, completed payments on the radio and used it in their own home.

Art Collection

The Molly Brown House Museum’s art collection consists of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century art including paintings, lithographs, sculptures, and more. The art collection helps to illustrate the Browns’ extensive travels to Europe and Asia, and it highlights not only the Browns’ personal taste, but the different artistic styles in Denver and abroad at the time.

Alabaster Statue

Alabaster statue, unknown sculptor

Sculptor: Unknown

Date: 1880-1920

Description: Hand carved alabaster nude female figure in the Classical style with white lace shawl around shoulders.

Provenance: The statue originally belonged to the Brown family. Cornelia Kaiser Metz, daughter of Henry Kaiser who rented 1340 Pennsylvania from Mrs. Brown, donated the statue with shawl to the museum.

Painting of the South Platte River HH Chain

Painting of the South Platte River

Artist: Helen Henderson Chain (local Colorado artist)

Date: 1880-1892

Description: Framed oil painting on canvas that features the South Platte River meandering towards a distant snow-capped mountain range. The river runs through the center foreground of the picture with snow-capped mountains in the background. Artist Helen Henderson Chain was a popular female painter in Colorado during Mrs. Brown’s life.

Provenance: The painting originally belonged to the Browns. The donor’s great-grandmother acquired the painting from the 1932 estate sale held at the house just after Mrs. Brown’s death.

Lady with Parrot

Lady with Parrot Painting

Artist: Charles Alexandre de Coessin de La Fosse

Date: 1840-1880

Description: Painting of a young woman in a night dress, holding a parrot and sitting beside a bed of the Classic Revival style. Colors are principally blues, gold and cream and some crimson on gold. The canvas is highly varnished and is in an elaborate gold frame with a plaster of Paris build-up of acanthus leaves and with beading on the inner edge of the frame.

Provenance: Mr. and Mrs. Brown originally owned the painting and likely picked it up in Paris when they visited in the summer of 1896. Cornelia Kaiser Metz, daughter of Henry Kaiser who rented 1340 Pennsylvania from Mrs. Brown, donated the painting to the museum.

Landscape painting

Landscape painting

Artist: Unknown

Date: 1886

Description: Framed painting of a lake and snow covered mountain landscape by an unknown artist. Marks on the back of the painting read, “Coultrup & Gupton Art CO” and “206 E. Pikes Peak Ave, Colo. Springs, Colo.”

Provenance: Mr. and Mrs. Brown received this painting as a wedding gift. Mrs. Brown’s great-niece, Lorraine Brown, donated the painting to the museum.

Lithograph of F Street

Lithograph of F Street, Denver, Colorado

Artist: J. Bien and A.E. Mathews

Date: 1840-1880

Description: Lithograph in a brown wooden frame of F-Street (now 15th Street) in Denver between 1860 and 1869. It depicts local businesses at the time: Partridge & Morrison, T. S. Clayton, Old & Tynom, Cheney’s Billiard Room, and M. L. Rood’s Gun Shop.

Provenance: Unknown

China and Glassware Collection

The china and glassware collection at the museum reflects upper middle class Victorian and Edwardian-era décor, dining and entertainment. Pieces such as table settings, teapots, vases and centerpieces decorate the Browns’ house and help illustrate their story.

Teacup and saucer

Teacup and saucer

Brand/maker: Haviland, clover and berry pattern

Date: 1880s-1931

Description: Short, bulbous teacup with handle and footed base, and round tea saucer. Gold accents with green clover and red berry pattern on the outside and inside rims. Scheiger #98; mark: “Haviland France Haviland Co. Limoges.” Part of a larger set of Haviland chinaware.

Provenance: The antique Haviland clover and berry patterned china set was acquired by the museum to replicate the china used by the Brown family. Although this set is not the Brown’s original set, it is the same pattern and from the same time period.

Blue glass bowl

Blue glass bowl

Brand/maker: Unknown

Date: 1890-1910

Description: Round, dark blue glass bowl with metal casing.

Provenance: The donor’s mother-in-law’s mother was Ella Grable, Mrs. Brown’s maid at the time of her death. When she died, the bowl was passed to Mrs. Grable.

China chocolate pot

China chocolate pot

Brand/maker: likely Nippon

Date: 1890-1910

Description: China chocolate pot with painted flowers leaves, and stems, gold trim.

Provenance: The donor’s mother-in-law’s mother was Ella Grable, Mrs. Brown’s maid at the time of her death. When she died, the chocolate pot was passed to Mrs. Grable.

Art Leisenring’s blue cracker jar

Art Leisenring’s blue cracker jar

Brand/maker: Unknown

Date: 1880-1900

Description: Blue wedgewood cracker jar with silver lid and handle, and silver ball feet. Greco embossed scene around the circumference in white ceramic.

Provenance: The donor, Art Leisenring, owned 1340 Pennsylvania Street from 1958-1970, many years after the Browns. He helped save the house from demolition and sold it to the newly formed preservation group Historic Denver. He also donated antiques to the house, including this cracker jar.

Brown's Salt Cellars

Brown’s salt cellars

Brand/maker: Unknown

Date: Unknown

Description: Cut-glass salt dishes with snowflake design in the center and swirls along the edge.

Provenance: Mrs. Brown eventually gave these salt cellars to her sister-in-law, Mary Brown. Mrs. Brown’s great-niece, Lorraine Brown, donated them to the museum.

Archive Collection

The Molly Brown House Museum has a growing archival collection of primary source documents that help us construct our overall mission and narrative. Our archives contain historic photographs, letters, articles, city directories, oral histories and more relating to the Brown family and their house at 1340 Pennsylvania Street. If you wish to peruse the museum’s archives, please contact the Curator to set up an appointment.

Drawing of the house layout by Helen Brown Benziger

Drawing of the house layout

Writer/author: Helen Brown Benziger

Date: Unknown

Description: Drawing of the first floor room layout of 1340 Pennsylvania Street according to Margaret and James Joseph Brown’s daughter, Helen Brown Benziger. The layout reflects her recollection of room locations during the time she lived in the house.

Provenance: The drawing was part of a scrapbook made by Art Leisenring, owner of 1340 Pennsylvania Street from 1958-1970, many years after the Browns.

Helen Brown Benziger’s recollection of the house

Helen Brown Benziger’s recollection of the house

Writer/author: transcribed by James Benziger

Date: 1957

Description: A letter from Helen Brown Benziger’s oldest son, James Benziger, in which he recounts some of his mother’s memories of living in the house.

Provenance: The letter was part of a scrapbook made by Art Leisenring, owner of 1340 Pennsylvania Street from 1958-1970, many years after the Browns.

Photo of James Kevin Brown and wife Mary Brown

Photo of James Kevin Brown and wife Mary Brown

Date: Unknown

Description: Photograph on gray mat of James Kevin Brown, brother of James Joseph Brown, and his wife Mary.

Provenance: Mrs. Brown’s great-niece, Lorraine Brown, donated the photograph to the museum.

Photograph of Minnie Brown

Photograph of Minnie Brown

Date: Unknown

Description: Photograph on a cardboard frame of Minnie Brown, niece of Margaret Brown. Minnie is shown wearing Mrs. Brown’s watch that she gifted to her.

Provenance: Mrs. Brown’s great-niece, Lorraine Brown, donated the photograph to the museum.

Photography of the collection by Tom McClure Photography www.tom-lee-images.com