The collection is organized into five series, and items are generally arranged chronologically within each series. Price tags are arranged numerically by item number. Items with no date are placed at the end at each series.
This series is comprised of correspondence, invoices, price tags, and item descriptions that detail the purchases Pratt made from the Schaffer collection in the 1930s and 1940s. Correspondence between Alexander S. Schaffer, his wife Ray Schaffer, and Pratt discuss sales, payments, display cabinets, family matters, and books and articles he sent to Pratt about Russian history, war, and family matters. After 1944, some of the correspondence, invoices and item descriptions came from A La Vieille Russie, where Schaffer continued to deal in Russian art and antiquities after closing his own shop.
The invoices are often annotated with check numbers as balances were paid off, and dates given often refer to the handwritten notes on the invoice detailing payment history. Similarly, price tags were often annotated with price reductions or alterations in the item’s description. Item descriptions are extremely detailed, and include the item number and often the date purchased. Many of the Schaffer descriptions are not dated, and while most of them can be cross-referenced with dates on the invoices, Schaffer often invoiced Pratt much later than the original purchase date, and in some cases, many years later. Finally, most of the item descriptions were annotated by museum staff at some point with VMFA accession numbers.
This series is comprised of invoices, price tags, item descriptions, exhibition labels and correspondence that document the purchases Pratt made from the Hammer Galleries in the 1930s and 1940s. The Lord & Taylor invoices are undated, but the item numbers match up with Hammer Galleries price tags, and the Galleries did present and sell their collection at Lord & Taylor in the early 1930s (probably 1934 based upon letterhead from the item descriptions).
Price tags were often annotated with price reductions or alterations in the item’s description. Item descriptions are extremely detailed, and include the item number and the date purchased. Most of the item descriptions were annotated by museum staff at some point with VMFA accession numbers. A note in Pratt’s hand is written on the item description for a traveling clock (item number 5253, purchased June 16, 1933) and says “Given to H.R.H. Princess Margaret Rose of England May 1939.” She received a letter of acknowledgment and appreciation back from Lady Constance Harriet Stuart Gaskell, a Woman of the Bedchamber to Queen Mary.
Finally, the few exhibition labels were used in the Hammer Collection’s “Russian Imperial Exhibit” at Lord & Taylor. Four are still mounted on the original gold colored panels.
This series is comprised of information about Pratt’s estate after her death on July 21, 1947. The estate tax return outlines the extent of her entire estate, including the varied philanthropic bequests and funds she had arranged. Detailed inventories of the estate list her belongings by category. One of the paintings lists was annotated by a local appraiser, Virginia Clarke Taylor, denoting which paintings were “antiques” or not. Finally, there are many price tags from other non-Faberge purchases she made over the years. Most are from the New York department store B. Altman & Company, and detail her acquisitions of silver, lamps, fabric, vases, paintings, and other decorative items.
This series is comprised of the few clippings that were found in the collection. As none of these particular clippings were mentioned in the correspondence directly, it’s possible that they did not originally belong to Pratt. The photographic copies of some of the articles were obviously made much later, but were retained as they may have been copies of articles Pratt once kept.
This series is comprised of items related to the Pratt collection that are held in other museum departments. Pratt’s personal library was donated to the Library upon her death, and the contents include books about Russian history and culture, as well as private editions about her collection published by Hammer Galleries. Curatorial records include early photographs of items from both Hammer Galleries and the Schaffer Collection, as well as a statement of account from Hammer and the first complete list of the collection after its arrival at the museum. Finally, images from the Photographic Archives show the public’s early fascination with the collection. Especially amazing was the tradition of photographing local children handling the eggs for publicity shoots, a practice which shows just how much museum culture has changed in the second half of the 20th century.
Items in this series are represented in the digital collection, but are still physically located in their respective museum departments.