Friday, February 20, 2009

Flashback Friday -- Mrs. Sage's coat

This coat belonged to Margaret Olivia Sage. She rarely used her first name and was known as Olivia Sage or Mrs. Russell Sage.

Russell Sage was a miserly man. He amassed a fortune of $75 million (equivalent to about $1.53 billion in today’s money) and left it to his wife Olivia in 1906. She spent her fortune in ways Russell would not have approved. She set up the Russell Sage Foundation which was (and still is) dedicated to good works and social causes and research.

Mr. Russell Sage left his sister, Fanny Sage Chapin, $10,000 in his will. Mr. Sage did leave his nephews and nieces $25,000 each. One of his nephews was my granddad, Fremont Chapin. Fremont was considered a wealthy man when he inherited this money. In the 1930s, Fremont lost all his money in a Ponzi scheme, just like the recent Bernard Madoff investment fraud.

At least we have a coat and a few antiques as reminders of that great fortune.
I just purchased the book, Mrs. Russell Sage by Ruth Crocker. I’m reading it to learn more about my great, great aunt Olivia.

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Blogger Gerrie said...

This is fascinating to me!! I lived in the Russell Sage dormitory at Cornell. I never knew anything about the man for whom it was named.

7:44 AM  
Blogger Collagemama said...

Interesting garment. When do you think it was made?

12:53 PM  
Blogger Christine Thresh said...

I am sure the garment was made after 1869. That was the year Olivia married Russell Sage. She didn't have any money to buy Paris fashions until then. The label says "Deffontaine, 13 Rue Royal, Paris." It is watered silk and velvet.

7:35 PM  
Blogger meggie said...

I was going to ask what it was made from. Thanks for the answer. What a fascinating garment, to go with the story.

1:07 PM  

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