The campaign is over and won!
UPDATE about online donation: Alert Janeite Cinthia sent along the news that the Museum is now accepting online donations at http://www.justgiving.com/jamt/Donate. The donation amounts appear to be in your local currency (for me, it appeared in US Dollars) so if you want to check how much the Museum will actually get, use a currency converter. (Google “currency converter” and one will pop up at the top of the page.)
YES! Jane Austen’s House Museum has announced a fundraiser to raise money to purchase Jane Austen’s turquoise ring from Kelly Clarkson (see our previous post and the lively discussion that followed). We will contact the Museum and try to get more information. Let’s do this, Janeites!
UPDATE: We heard from Louise West, the director of the museum. She sent us a donation form. She said for international contributors, it will be better to use a credit card; with a check, they will lose money because of the exchange rate. For UK contributors, we imagine a cheque will be the best way to donate. Please download, print, and post your contribution–do not send a credit card number by email!
Also, if they do not receive enough money to purchase the ring, they will keep your donation for the operation of the museum, unless you let them know differently. (Seriously, just let them keep it. The Museum does great work and is a wonderful place to visit.)
Louise also sent the following statement about this fundraising effort:
We do want to stress that we are not wanting to buy the ring because we don’t approve of Kelly Clarkson’s ownership. Indeed we are very encouraged that someone who is young and very popular wants to own the ring; it says a lot about Jane Austen’s reputation among young people. We are trying to buy it now because we wish to keep the ring at Jane Austen’s home as we feel this is the most appropriate place. We tried to raise money before the auction but didn’t have enough time. Hopefully we now have.
Everyone please donate! Don’t forget to use airmail postage if necessary. Take the time to go to your local post office and make sure you have the right amount of postage. Let’s do this!
Press release after the jump:
Jane Austen’s House Museum
Museum launches campaign to keep Jane’s ring close to home.
Jane Austen’s House Museum in Chawton, Hampshire, today launches a campaign to raise £152,450 (excluding VAT) to try to “bring home” a gold and turquoise ring once owned by Jane Austen (1775-1817)
The ring is in excellent condition, and is accompanied by papers documenting the history of the ring within Jane Austen’s family. The ring passed first to her sister Cassandra, who, as soon as she heard of her engagement, gave it to her sister-in-law Eleanor Austen, second wife of the Revd. Henry Thomas Austen (brother of Jane and Cassandra). It has remained in the family ever since.
When the ring was sold at auction last year, the museum was unable to raise sufficient funds in the time available to meet the hammer price. It is now the subject of an export ban and the museum has until the end of September to show a serious expression of interest to buy the ring. They would aim to raise the entire sum by the end of December. The buyer at auction was Kelly Clarkson, American pop idol, who is known to be an Austen fan. Even if the museum raises the money to buy the ring they hope to cultivate a relationship with the singer.
The museum, also known as Chawton Cottage, was the home of the writer for the last 8 years of her life and was where she wrote and revised all of her 6 completed novels. This year they are celebrating the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice. Should the museum’s fundraising be successful it is hoped that the ring will have pride of place alongside the two other known pieces of jewellery owned by the writer, a turquoise bracelet and a topaz cross.
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said:
“Jane Austen’s modest lifestyle and her early death mean that objects associated with her of any kind are extremely rare, so I hope that a UK buyer comes forward so this simple but elegant ring can be saved for the nation.”
Turquoise was a December birthstone (Austen’s birth month) and symbolises wisdom and spiritual journeys.
Those wishing to make a donation should follow the link on the website http://www.jane-austens-house-museum.org.uk , or contact the museum on 01420 83262