Pyne Library, the sesquicentennial gift of Mrs. Percy Rivington Pyne, mother of Moses Taylor Pyne, Class of 1877 (1855-1921), was added to Chancellor Green in 1897. In one of its alcoves, a long-term exhibition was mounted of the Lawrence Hutton collection of death masks, donated to Princeton University that same year.
When the collection moved next door to Firestone Library, no such exhibit was created, to the regret of a reporter for The Daily Princetonian. “The collection, a gift of Lawrence Hutton, former lecturer in English, was at one time a prize exhibit in the Pyne Library but lack of space in the new building has prevented its display since it was moved to its present quarters.”
The article also mentioned that masks were added to the collection after 1897, noting that “Mrs. Grover Cleveland, longtime resident of Princeton, donated the likeness of her ex-president husband at the time of his death.”
Our collection includes an unmarked mask, unusually cast in cement rather than plaster and, because of its enormous weigh, permanently housed in a wood frame. Is the mask below (also in the center of the photograph above), the 1908 mask of the 22nd and 24th President of the United States?
Death mask of Grover Cleveland?, 1908. Cement in wood frame. Donated by Mrs. Grover Cleveland.
See also a photograph of Cleveland’s 1885 inauguration: /~graphicarts/2008/09/mammoth_inauguration.html
Guy J. Wells, “Firestone Houses Death Masks of Kings, Musicians, Presidents,” Daily Princetonian, 73, no. 136 (8 November 1949).