A Christmas Mystery…help me solve it!

I love old things, and I especially love collecting vintage religious icons – pictures mostly, things of beauty. Today, this very moment, I have just picked up my latest find and, dear reader, it seems to have a lovely little mystery attached to it…

On the back of this lovely gilded wooden frame (approx. 32cm high and 14cm wide) featuring an angel with a trumpet are the remnants of a letter written on 22 December, 192- to a Miss Owen, sent with warmest wishes and deepest thanks from a number of Japanese people. The year is partially obscured because the paper has been cropped at some point and glued to the back. The yellowing paper is delicate, probably too much so to pull the letter from the frame.

It reads:


My Dear Miss Owen,

We are sending you a Christmas angel with our warmest greetings and best wishes for the New Year.

Thanks for all you have done for us.

Cordially yours,

Clara D. Loomis                   Yoshii Masujama
Gingko Akatsu                      Kimiko Nemoto
Hide Asami                           Hisa Toyoda
Fusako Fukuzaura              Ayako Takeuchi
Katori Hashimoto               Shuko Kawayuchi
Miyoko Masuchi                  Fumi Odato
Yone Sugiri                            Kimmi Kitaori
Nobu Kawasumuru

So who is Miss Owen? What did she do? And who was the group that sent this beautiful gift to her?

I bought this piece from another collector in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, Australia, and she’s also none the wiser to its origins. I can only surmise that Miss Owen is Australian, but of course, she could easily be British, Canadian, Kiwi or some other nationality altogether.

I’m a little in awe of the synchronicity – a Christmas angel gifted to another has fallen into my hands almost 100 years later to the very day!

So do you know who Miss Owen is? Are you a relative? Do you know any of the senders? Can you help with the spelling of the Japanese names? I may have bumbled some of them as the legibility varies.

Drop me a line and let me know. A history mystery is the very best kind!

And may I take this moment to wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year in 2017.

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