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Belle Meade Plantation’s Permanent Collection

Priceless Artifacts from the Plantation's History

The collection includes priceless family documents and photographs including engraved paper bookplates made by Tiffany and Company in 1900, photographs of the family and William Howard Taft made during his 1908 visit, and an 1862 note to Mrs. Elizabeth Harding from future President, Andrew Johnson. Many pieces of coin silver that were owned by William Giles Harding are in the collection today. Most were won as trophies for showing thoroughbreds, cashmere goats, sheep, and cattle in the 1850s and 1860s. Many of these pieces were made by silversmiths in Tennessee. Gracing the main hall of the mansion are thoroughbred paintings commissioned by General Harding and General Jackson depicting their most famous horses.

These works of art were created by some of the most talented equine painters of the 19th Century including Edward Troye, Harry Hall, and Henry Stull. Many of the oldest pieces of furniture in the mansion were made in Tennessee and the southeast from 1810 to 1830 including an original cherry federal style secretary and bookcase in the library and a southern sugar chest from 1820 in the dining room. In the 1850s, William Giles Harding and his wife Elizabeth acquired pieces of rococo furniture from premier manufacturers such as John Henry Belter, Joseph Meeks, Charles Lee, and Mitchell & Rammelsberg. They can still be seen in the mansion today.