George Washington Book Sign
George Washington was commander in chief of the continental army during the Revolutionary War in 1775-1781 and the first president of the United States in 1789-1897. Naturally, the bookplate of such a person is of great interest to collectors and historians. There is a legend that the idea of a star-striped American flag was conceived from the stars and stripes on the coat of arms of Washington, but this is doubtful. Benjamin Franklin – an associate of Washington, one of the designers of the Great Seal of the United States, spoke about the stars and stripes on the coat of arms: “We, not he – he did not know this, took his coat of arms, multiplied and glorified his path to our magnificent national banner” . This was written in the poem Drama in Five Acts (A Drama in Five Acts. New York. 1876). popular English poet M.F. Tapper (M.F. Tupper) and consistent with the patriotic impulse of society. The story was repeated many times and served as an occasion for this legend. George Washington himself said the following about the meaning of the flag design: “We took the stars from the sky, red is the color of our Motherland, the white stripes that separate it mean that we have separated from it, these white stripes will go down in history as a symbol of Freedom.”
Bookplate of J. Washington – Rococo-style heraldic chippendale. The emblem of the family, which has been known since the 12th century when one of the ancestors captured the Washington Old Hill estate, located in the north-east of England, is taken as the basis. The emblem depicts a silver shield with three red stars and two also red stripes, crowned with a golden crown, on which, in turn, is a black bird with wings spread. At the bottom of the tape is the motto: “EXITUS ACTA PROBAT” (the result justifies the act). On the bookplate, the shield has an asymmetric shape, on both sides of the shield are shoots and rose branches. At the bottom of the cartouche, handwritten in the font “Georg Washington”. The size of the sign is 97×64. The absence of a date on the sign caused difficulties in determining whether the sign was engraved in America or in England. There are two opinions on this score.
In 1771, Washington ordered an original engraving on copper and 300 prints of bookplates in London, which was done according to its technical requirements in 1772. Washington pasted these signs on many books from its library of nearly 900 volumes.
A collector from America, Roland G. Curtin, wrote in 1908 in an article “Ex libris of doctors” in his article: “It occurred to me that his general style closely resembles one of the signs executed by Paul Revier. Given the fact that Revir was an ardent admirer of Washington and that he worked immediately after the Revolution, we can assume that perhaps he gave Washington a sign as proof of his respect. The only argument against this hypothesis is that the heraldic bookplates after the Revolution were not popular in the families of Washington and Revir. Although, as I said, some believe that this was done in England. A thorough study and accurate calculations were exhaustive and, including other articles, but no mention was made of such an acquisition in England. ” Paul Revere (Paul Revere) (1734-1818) – the hero of the American Revolution, a master of silver.
Washington’s copper plate cliché was handed over to descendants, and they made prints for acquaintances. Such copies should be recognized, since the original is almost impossible to find.
Over time, the owner of the original copper board became the banker from Philadelphia, Bush W. Adams, possibly a descendant of John Adams – first vice president and second president. During the 1864 World Exposition in Philadelphia, Adams made many copies of the badge, which were sold at the fair in favor of wounded and sick United States soldiers. To increase the value of the specimens, Adams broke the cliches in half and threw both halves from the bridge into the Shuilkill River. The sale of these prints brought the fund a net income of more than one thousand dollars.
This sign was repeatedly faked and, to increase the value, it was placed in books for sale, allegedly once owned by J. Washington. At the end of the 19th century, circulations were made from the original prints, but on modern paper, or were sold and are being sold as inexpensive facsimiles.
Caution should be exercised if such signs are offered. Their authenticity can be verified as follows. Look at the sheet of bookplate light and see if the dark lines in the paper structure are visible or not. If the paper is of the XVIII century, then the lines are visible, on the later paper the lines are invisible. Another way to check. When the sign of George Washington was made, the engraver cutter slipped and made a very small scratch. If this line is not visible, then you are offered a fake.
In 2010, the original bookplate of J. Washington was auctioned with a starting price of $ 1,500 and was sold for $ 3,000. The same sign is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.