MARRIAGE OF GREAT HEIRESS
America's Richest Bride
Dying William F. I Weld left a fortune estimated 17.000 000 in 1881, at None but his heirs and lawyers knew how great was that fortune. He left behind four children and two grandchildren. It was not then fashionable in America to entail great estates, as they do in England.
So Mr. Weld bequeathed half his fortune to his children and half to his grandchildren, to come into their possession at the age of twenty-five years. This fortune was most carefully invested. It increased and multiplied while its owners slept.
Mrs. Larz Anderson is one of Mr. Weld's two grandchildren. She was five years old when he died; she's twenty-one now.
She inherited approximately $3 million from her grandfather William Fletcher Weld, though this amount later increased to about $5 million after the Weld estate was probated, that was shared equally among Isabel and Grandfather Weld's three other grandchildren. Do you understand how Mrs. Larz Anderson became one of America's heiresses?
One daughter of William F. Weld, who made his fortune in the foreign trade and in railroad bonds, married an officer of the United States Navy, Lieutenant George Hamilton Perkins, now retired with the rank of captain.
A daughter blessed their union, and they called her Isabelle. Of the education of this young woman it is unnecessary to speak. To talk of the education of a princess would be nonsense.
In due course of time Miss Isabelle Perkins was introduced into the society of Boston, and the society of Boston was, of course, delighted. The fashionables of New York first were introduced to Miss Isabelle Perkins at Newport, in the summer of 1895, where her mother has a residence so modest that it must be called a cottage, not a villa .
She was then a pretty girl, eighteen years old, rather retired in her manner. Every one said she was "sweet" and "attractive." Even those who did not know Miss Isabelle Perkins, and it was true. Her mother was in very delicate health that summer, and Miss Perkins did not go out in society.
Only the guests at a few afternoon teas saw her. The tittle-tattles at Newport then said that Miss Perkins's parents, and the guardians of her estate, wished her to see!
Are there not fortune hunters? Is not an inexperienced girl's heart like a deserted fortress, to be stormed by the first and boldest? In September, 1895, Miss Perkins went abroad. Her careful and judicious chaperon was Mrs. Maud Howe Elliott, daughter of Mrs. Tulia Ward Howe. And that winter they were in Rome, the Eternal City.
In the class of '88 at Harvard was a young man named Larz Anderson. This young man Is well bred and has good blood in his veins. His family, never wealthy, came originally from Ohio, whence have come so many of those born great and those on whom greatness has been thrust. One of Larz Anderson's ancestors helped to found Cincinnati. The men of the family have had a leaning toward diplomacy, and have served their country as consuls and attaches of legations. Larz Anderson's father. General Nicholas Anderson, was well known in Washington, where he resided. General Anderson died abroad In the diplomatic service a few years ago.
At Harvard Larz Anderson was never distinguished above his fellows. Precious few men at Cambridge then were invited to visit the Perkins house in Boston, and if they were the students of '88 rather patronized little Miss Isabelle Perkins.
Larz Anderson had not the happiness to know Mrs. Perkins. In fact, Larz Anderson did not go out much in Boston society.
He is not a handsome man, he could not afford an expensive tailor. He had a nice artistic taste, and he dabbled in drawing. When he was graduated he followed the bent of his forefathers, and went in for diplomacy.
He was made an attaché to the United States Legation at London when Robert Lincoln was Minister at the Court of St. James. Such association polished the well bred Larz Anderson. He was even given other posts in diplomatic service. In the winter of 1895, in Rome, after Mrs. Maud Howe Eljiott had given her permission, Larz Anderson, Secretary of the United States Legation in Italy, was presented to Miss Isabelle Perkins. They fell in love with each other. Miss Perkins, with Mrs. Elliott, returned to Boston last autumn. There being absolutely nothing to prohibit it, her parents gave their consent to her marriage.
The beautiful old Arlington Street Church was a triumph of decorative simplicity at noon on June 10, 1897, when the marriage of Miss Isabelle Perkins, daughter of Captain George Hamilton Perkins, U. S. N., and Larz Anderson, late of the American Legation, Rome, was solemnized.
The blooming mountain laurel which decorated the chancel made a most effective background for the large hydrangeas and palms which were grouped about profusely. Far up, near the ceiling, hung a huge bunch of Easter lilies. The same flowers, tied with broad white satin ribbons, marked the pews of the guests.
The tall columns which support the balcony were outlined with twining evergreen, over which the soft electric lights shed a warm glow. Between these columns, on the balcony, were potted palms and hydrangeas and mountain laurel in shield-like clusters.
The church's fine quartet was augmented by a full chorus. As the bridal party entered the church at noon the chorus sang the bridal chorus from "Lohengrin."
The bridesmaids were four, all beautiful: Miss Eleanor Gray, Miss Susan Dalton, Miss Theodora Knight and Miss Bessie Seabury. They wore gowns of silk striped organdie, with long tulle sashes, and ostrich plumed hats, and carried large bouquets of delicate pink roses.
The maid of honor was Miss Elizabeth Anderson, sister of the groom, a tall, and stately beauty. Immediately behind her walked the bride, in rich white satin gown, over which fell a long lace veil. She was escorted by her father, and carried a large bouquet of fragrant lilies of the valley.
All the flowers at the church and house, $20,000 worth, were sent to-night to the Carney and Vincent Hospitals.
Isabel’s bespoke gown was created for her by the English dressmaker Charles Frederick Worth in Paris during the fall, while she was staying at the Hotel Ritz waiting for the Palais d’Assche to be readied for their occupancy. It was of heavy white satin lined with taffeta and decorated with orange blossoms and antique Mechlin lace. The veil, a gift from Isabel's mother was specially designed and handmade in Venice with the bridal couple initials ILA, interwoven in intricate fashion. She ordered the gowns for the bridesmaids also from Paris in white silk trimmed with pink ribbons and Valenciennes lace.
Larz's gift to his bride was a diamond tiara of his own design that could also be worn as a necklace (Jewel list 1948 Diamond tiara with seven large stone -gold back $7000).
Isabel's aunt Caroline Goddard Weld, gave her a diamond brooch shaped like a lovers knot (Jewel list 1948- large diamond bowknot - gold filigree and large diamond center $3000).
Emerald Jewels Isabel Anderson Weld Perkins | Famous Emeralds Important Jewelry | Gilded Age Heiress
When they visited India in 1898, they acquired the gemstones that became Isabel's signature piece of jewelry: a three emerald pendant brooch.
In a letter written from Bombay in late December 1898, Larz Anserson said they had inspected some large emeralds and other jewels for sale in Madras the cost between $30,000 and $60,000 for each piece.
In 1931 Larz Anderson, wrote about their first trip to India and confirmed their purchase of gems:
We also tried to find Tawker and Sons on the Mount Road where we had our original bargaining for some jewels on the occasion of our first visit, jewels that we were told belonged to some of the Mysore princes.
At any rate the bargaining was a long game that lasted all the time that we made our tour of northern India and was only concluded on arrival in Calcutta on the occasion of the durbars which we had attended in honour of the Curzons when he came as Viceroy, and Mary Leiter (Baroness Curzon of Kedleston), had been very polite to us.
The couple purchased Isabel's enormous emeralds at T.B. Tawker and Sons, a firm that traded in royal jewelry, including emeralds once owned by the Mogul Emperor Shah Alum and by Tipu Sultan, the "Tiger of Mysore" in the eighteenth century. Formerly a turban clip, now mounted as a brooch, the central emerald of hexagonal shape measuring approximately 30.8 by 26,3 by 6.3mm framed by 24 old mine diamonds and topped by a briolette emerald drop amidst foliate scroll-work accented with old-mine and rose-cut diamonds and a briolette diamond, mounted in gold, brooch attachment detachable.
Larz Anderson himself described the jewels' princely provenance and may have been the instigator of a rumour that Isabel received them as a secret gift from a maharaja who was smitten by her beauty. The emeralds cost between $90,000 and $180,000.
A copy of the estate inventory of Isabel Anderson’s jewelry collection at the time of her death in 1948, included the emerald and diamond brooch shown in the photograph above. The item described in the inventory as No. 3, “ large hexagonal, rose cut emerald and diamond pendant brooch with one pear shape and one briolette drop emerald, $5500", valued at only a fraction of what Larz and Isabel paid for the emeralds in India in 1898.
Sold by Sotheby's New York April 1986 for $297,000 USD. It was probably bought by Graff London and remade with a large new diamond, without the scrolls, and without the briolette, as seen in the picture above in the upper right corner and offered as "Emerald Elegance - with 81.57ct Emeralds".
The whereabouts of the emeralds is unknown.
Mrs Larz Anderson wore some more emerald jewelry in the photograph; there are other emeralds listed in the inventory:
Cabochon cut emerald and diamond necklace $2500 -Nr6
Emerald and chip diamond buckle $100 -Nr9
Emerald, pearl and diamond collar $4000. -Nr11
Three emerald and diamond pin $1600 -Nr17
Emerald and diamond crescent brooch $500 -Nr48
Flat emerald and diamond cluster ring, square platinum setting $400 -Nr 19
Some remarkable jewels from the jewelry list of 1948 in total $53 496 for 53 lots:
Large oval sapphire and double row diamond pendant, gold setting $1,200
Large graduated diamond necklace with 48 diamonds in platinum setting $12,000
Oriental baroque pearl necklace with 365 pearls $500
Natural and imitation pearl necklace with pearl and diamond cluster clasp $1,000
Solitaire diamond ring with gold setting containing 5 diamonds and 1 round sapphire in shank $1,500
Diamond pavé four leaf clover brooch, gold setting $400
Solitaire diamond ring gold Tiffany setting $400
Small old mine diamond necklace chain $400
Large single diamond pendant platinum and diamond chain and small chain $7,500
Sapphire and diamond cluster brooch - small $450
Gold diamond spray brooch with platinum top $350
Thank you to Jonathan for his help!
Sources: New York Times; Sotheby's; Wealth and Celebrity in the Gilded Age by Stephen Moskey; New York Journal and Advertiser (New York [N.Y.]) 1897; Graff London;
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