Poe’s Pocket Watch Among Artifacts Donated to Museum

Courtesy of Wikipedia

1849 daguerreotype of Edgar Allan Poe.

Edgar Allan Poe’s pocket watch, an engagement ring he gave to his last fiancée, and a fragment of the poet’s coffin are among the artifacts recently donated to Richmond, Virginia’s Poe Museum. The collection, which the museum’s executive director Maeve Jones called “transformative,” also includes manuscript letters and rare first editions.

The donor behind this breathtaking collection is Susan Jaffe Tane, well-known in the book-collecting community as the preeminent Poe collector. In an exclusive interview with Fine Books in 2014 on the occasion of two exhibitions in New York that showcased parts of her collection, she discussed her dedication to Poe and shared that the Sarah Elmira Royster / Poe engagement ring is her “most cherished object.” Tane purchased the ring at auction in 2012, followed by the pocket watch in 2019. 

Courtesy of Christie's

Tane purchased Poe's pocket watch for $250,000 from Christie's in 2019.

Of her gift to the museum, Tane commented in a press release, “As a dedicated Poe collector I have understood my responsibility to preserve the best of our literary heritage. In honor and celebration of the museum’s centennial I am proud to contribute some highlights of my collection including Poe’s pocket watch, his engagement ring to Sarah Elmira Royster, and a fragment of his coffin. I am particularly pleased and comforted that these items have found a proper and ‘FOREVER’ home.”

The collection was given to the museum in anticipation of its 100th anniversary. An unveiling event at the museum is planned for April 28.

“Ms. Tane’s generous gift furthers our mission to illuminate Poe for everyone, evermore,” said Jones.