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    Follow the Stories | Boise, Idaho (2014)

    To the Point: Earhart's Prenuptial Letter to Putnam

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    Posted: 1.20.2014

    Pen and pencil set

    The pen and pencil were made by Waterman. These are two examples from the guest's husband's collection.

    1932 inscription

    Amelia Earhart had the writing instruments inscribed for her husband George Putnam in 1932.

    Kathleen Guzman appraisal

    Appraiser Kathleen Guzman gave them an auction value of $15,000 to $20,000 at the Boise, Idaho event in 2013.

    At the Boise, Idaho, appraisal event in 2013, the owner of two coveted writing instruments was in for a treat when she met expert Kathleen Guzman. The pen and pencil set belonged to the owner's husband, two pieces from a collection of 500 amassed over three decades. Yet these two instruments in particular stood out to Kathleen because they bore inscriptions from Amelia Earhart. The set was made by Waterman, makers of high-quality writing instruments for many years. This particular set was a gift from Earhart to her husband George Palmer Putnam in 1932, after their first year of marriage.

    "He tried to propose to her six times before she finally accepted," Guzman said. In the Purdue University archives, ANTIQUES ROADSHOW found a copy of the letter Earhart wrote to Putnam in 1931, before their marriage. "You must know my reluctance to marry," Earhart wrote, "my feeling that I shatter thereby chances in work which means most to me."

    The letter shows how dedicated Earhart was to her career as a pilot. After all, she was planning to achieve the extraordinary in becoming the first female to complete a solo transatlantic flight in May of 1932. As a female adventurer in the early 1930s, Earhart clearly felt conflicted about her decision to wed Putnam, noting that she could not guarantee "to endure at all times the confinement of even an attractive cage." More than the conventional cold feet of a bride-to-be, Earhart's letter exudes deep misgivings that marrying Putnam would mean surrendering her cherished independence and the chance to pursue her life's dreams. Her courage to communicate her fears so candidly to the man she had already agreed to marry is still stirring today.

    Read the full letter in the Purdue University archives »

    Learn more about Amelia Earhart from AMERICAN EXPERIENCE »

    See the Boise, Idaho (2014) page for a list of all appraisals from this city.


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