The Perfect Gift for Well-Heeled Babies


Looking for a high-class baby shower gift that's one for the books? According to writer Richard Davies, online retailer AbeBooks is selling Edith Wharton’s baby rattle—a sterling silver toy with a coral teething piece and a whistle—for $16,500. Just in case you had any doubts that it actually belonged to Wharton, rest assured: the pricey baby accessory is also engraved with the name “Edith.”  

The Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist became famous for works like The Age of Innocence and The House of Mirth, which questioned societal norms among New York City’s elite during the Gilded Age. Thanks to Wharton’s high social standing, she had plenty of real-life inspiration to draw from. According to biographers, the phrase “keeping up with the Joneses” was coined to describe Wharton’s wealthy great-aunts, Mary and Rebecca Jones. Considering her well-heeled background, it’s only fitting that one of Wharton’s toys would be made from a precious metal.

The rattle also once belonged to Lucienne Belugou, who was the daughter of one of Wharton’s close friends, Leon Belugou, the listing notes. Wharton gave Lucienne Belugou the toy on her christening, and she later passed it on to a French scholar named Claudine Lesage. Eventually, Priscilla Juvelis—a private rare book dealer from Maine—purchased the rattle from Lesage. Now, Juvelis is selling the rattle—and we’re assuming that only the most discerning parents (and their generous friends) will line up to buy it.

[h/t Smithsonian, AbeBooks]