In 1897 a diamond hair ornament, shaped like a crown, was given to Mary Baker Eddy. The ornament contains 12 diamonds, six large pearls, and 39 small pearls set in an 18-karat gold crown, with a band of indigo blue enamel across its middle. Engraved on the back is the inscription “Mother 1897.” The ornament is a “combination pin,” as described by its donor, Amanda Baird — meaning it could be worn as a hair pin or used as a brooch.
As we researched the stories behind this beautiful pin, one question kept coming to mind: Why did Eddy’s student Amanda Baird, her family, and her students give Eddy such an extraordinarily lavish gift? What follows is one of several answers.
This story begins in late June of 1897, when a group of Christian Scientists in Kansas City, Missouri, heard they were invited to take a trip to Pleasant View, Eddy’s home in Concord, New Hampshire. On July 5 there was to be a “reception by our beloved Mother to the church members and a few others specially invited.”1 This was the first time for such an event; several more followed, culminating when thousands came to Concord in June 1903. But in 1897 the desire was for a small and somewhat private event, amid some concern that uninvited tourists, eager for a glimpse of Eddy, would try to attend, and overrun the house and grounds.
Unaware of all this, William Bradford Dickson, First Reader of the Christian Science church in Kansas City, failed to understand that the invitation he had received was for him alone. Instead, he extended it to his fellow Mother Church members, and a group of about 40 to 50 individuals began the trip East. The group included Amanda Baird, who was both a practitioner and teacher of Christian Science in Kansas City. She and most of the party arrived in Concord on Monday, July 5.
The “reception” began at about 12:30 in the afternoon, with Edward Bates, an official of The Christian Science Publishing Society, acting as a kind of emcee for the festivities. At one point, however, the proceedings became less festive, and even rather tense. What happened was recalled years later by Will Cooper, who was then a boy of nine:
After Mrs. Eddy put in her appearance I was too intent in watching her to pay any attention to anyone else or anything else that might have been going on. I was the same way when Mr. Bates began to talk, making I suppose a sort of an address of welcome, until I heard him utter the words, “Kansas City.” …. The full sentence I was told later was, “I understand there are some people here from Kansas City and I don’t know why they are here because they were not invited.” The scene following that remark is indelibly fixed in my memory as the sudden stopping of moving picture projector or the sudden illumination of a scene by a flash of lightning in a dark night. I saw Mrs. Baird’s jaw drop and her mouth open wide in astonishment as she gazed first at her daughters and then around our group. I saw Mr. [Dickson] advancing to the porch holding the telegram out in his right hand to Mr. Bates but I did not see what Mr. Bates did about it because my attention was then drawn to Mrs. Eddy who unhurriedly arose from her chair and said, “But I am very glad they are here. I am very glad to see them. They are most welcome.” I was not more than five or six feet from her at the time and I distinctly heard every word she said. Having thus spoken she turned partly around and placing her right hand on the back of her chair, leaned on it towards Mr. Bates and even though I was very young and could not hear what she said, I knew very well that he was being rebuked. I have hardly ever seen such a complete and sudden change in a man’s deportment….2
The unexpected arrival of the Kansas City group, as well as Bates’s pointed remarks, apparently impressed many of the nearly 3,000 individuals who came to Pleasant View that day; a “Card” in the August issue of the Journal attempted to explain the situation. Clearly some were embarrassed and concerned by the incident, and it wouldn’t be surprising if Amanda Baird felt she needed to show her appreciation for Eddy’s loving remarks, which prevented a minor social faux pas from erupting into a large-scale incident.
Eddy responded: In September 1897, slightly over two months after the visit, Amanda Baird and her Christian Science pupils, the Western Christian Scientist Association, sent the pin to Eddy. In her letter accompanying the gift, Baird was effusive. She stated that “since our visit to Concord the overflowing hearts find expression in this gift” and explained in great detail the symbolism of the crown and its gems. “Now, dearest Mother,” she noted, “we, thy children, rise up and call thee blessed; and present to you this gift; trusting you will find it in divine order to wear it in your hair, thus fulfilling the scripture: ‘She (Father and Mother Love) shall give to thine hand an ornament of grace; a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee.’”3 (Baird is quoting Prov. 4:9.)
Your regal gift from loyal hearts was indeed a surprise! Its worth and artistic beauty I cannot duly name, but both are deeply appreciated. Your letters coupled with the gift, seal its inestimable value.
I cannot say how much I thank you. My feelings are too deep for expression. I only pray to reach the crown of divine Love — and to be worthy of your crown so emblematical and of your love. For this fitness I shall continue to strive; since to be worthy of your heart’s intent, and be your “queen” in meekness and love, that I may the better serve you, is my whole desire.
To the dear members of The Western Students Christian Scientists Association I beg to say. Thank you deeply for the confidence and love wherewith you honor me.
May each day unfold to each one of you the manifold treasures of Christian Science, and you become the rich partakers thereof. Remember, that the power to heal is gained through peace, wisdom, love, dominion over ourselves, and good will toward men. You possess these graces of Spirit, or Christ power, only by loving God, Good, supremely. After this, cometh the recognition of but one Mind which enables you to know there is no power or presence that can resist Good, or can prevent your prayers being effectual. While you remain in this attitude of mind you are obedient to the Principle of your being, and naught can hinder your healing the sick and the sinner.4
Eddy greatly appreciated the hair pin, and purposely wore it together with her diamond cross brooch for this photograph, taken by Calvin Frye sometime about 1907. A friend of Frye’s later recalled that Eddy “had the diamond crown placed in her hair and the diamond cross at her neck especially for this picture.”5
- “Our Fourth of July,” The Christian Science Journal, August 1897, http://journal.christianscience.com/issues/1897/8/15-5/our-fourth-of-july.
- Rem. Will Cooper, 4-5. Unless otherwise noted, details of the Pleasant View reception are taken from this reminiscence and the articles on the reception that appeared in the Journal.
- Amanda J. Baird to Mary Baker Eddy, 17 September 1897, IC355.
- Eddy to Baird and Members of Baird’s Association, 23 September 1897, L04620.
- Rem. Frances Thompson Hill, letter to Board of Trustees, The Christian Science Publishing Society, 9 November 1953. Hill was the wife of Calvin Hill, who had assisted Eddy with a number of tasks at both Pleasant View, and Chestnut Hill. To learn more about the diamond brooch, see “Mary Baker Eddy’s Diamond Cross Pin,” the Library’s September 2011 Object of the Month, posted at https://www.marybakereddylibrary.org/research/mary-baker-eddys-diamond-cross-pin.