The Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera
5105 Kennett Pike, Winterthur, Delaware 19735
Telephone: 302-888-4600 or 800-448-3883
OVERVIEW OF THE COLLECTION
Creator: Washington, George, 1732-1799
Title: Papers and Printed Ephemera
Acc. No.: [various – see detailed description]
Quantity: 3 boxes
Location: 34 D 6
George Washington was the first
President of the United States, after serving as commander-in-chief of the
Continental Army during the American Revolution. He was venerated as a hero and his image
became an important symbol to Americans.
His home at
SCOPE AND CONTENT
This collection contains four items in Washington's own hand; two forgeries of letters; various types of printed ephemera; and some photocopies. The original documents include an inventory of items purchased for use in the house Washington occupied while President of the United States, with entries dating 1789-1796 (acc. 65x571). A second original document is a letter in which Washington refuses a dinner invitation from Lord Sterling, May 15, 1780 (acc. 54x107), while another letter addressed to Tristam Dalton in 1795 concerns naming a Virginian as a commissioner for the new federal city. A fourth letter, dated July 18, 1798, was addressed to Colonel William Heth. This concerns Heth being appointed as an aide to Washington should he be asked to become commander-in-chief again during a dispute with France.
The ephemera include a decorative badge, some bank checks,
a sheet music cover, a certificate of membership in the Washington National
Monument Society, a number of engraved and printed portraits, and invitations and
programs to balls held in Washington’s memory.
A book concerning the Gibbs-Channing portrait of
The items are divided into four series:
I. Letters and documents;
II. Portraits and monuments;
III. Mount Vernon and the tomb of Washington; and
IV. Ball invitations and programs.
Forgeries are included with the real letters and documents. Listed under portraits are items, such as a patriotic ribbon and checks, which include portraits of Washington, although showing his picture is not the main purpose of the item.
LANGUAGE OF MATERIALS
The materials are in English and German.
RESTRICTIONS ON ACCESS
Collection is open to the public. Copyright restrictions may apply.
Purchases and gifts from various sources.
Accession 14x70: gift of Mr. and Mrs. Barron U. Kidd.
Washington, George, 1732-1799.
Washington, George, 1732-1799 – Anniversaries.
Washington, George, 1732-1799 – Portraits.
Washington, John Augustine, 1820-1861.
Taylor, Zachary, 1784-1850.
Tyler, Benjamin Owen.
Adams, John, 1735-1826.
Heth, William, 1750-1807.
Order Sons of
Whig Party (
Calligraphy – Specimens.
Penmanship, American – Study and teaching.
Presidents – Dwellings –
Dwellings - Inventories.
Forgery of manuscripts.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE COLLECTION
Series I: Letters and documents (real and forged, also copies):
54x107 Letter from
[laminated and attached to sheet of paper; Washington’s red wax seal has been removed from one sheet of paper and attached to this one]
[Lord Sterling was William Alexander, Lord Stirling, a general in the Continental Army.]
62x41 Letter (forgery, or perhaps just a copy mimicking
Washington’s hand) addressed to P.S. Duponceau of Philadelphia, dated Mount
Vernon, Nov. 9, 1799. Mentions that Mr.
du Pont de Nemours is coming from
62x102 Letter from Washington, Mount Vernon, to Tristram Dalton,
Partial watermark visible: includes the name George and the letter W.
65x571 Photocopy, photograph, and typescript of the inventory of purchases made by Washington for the house in New York City which he occupied while president, written in his own hand, with dates from 1789 to 1796.
Also a note about the significance of the document.
original document is in
65x730 Photocopy of check: Bank of Delaware check no. 146, dated
October 2, 1796,
[note: original check was transferred to the Cantwell’s Bridge Foundation of Odessa, Delaware, in February 2005]
Ph 92-100 Information about George Washington and
of pages from a journal kept by J. Wood of
Ph 1394.1-.4 Inventories from the President’s house,
of inventories in
1: list of household furnishings in two columns: “furnished by the U. States” and “Purchased by G.W.” Includes plate, plated-ware, knives and forks, andirons, fenders, shovels and tongs, clocks, japan-ware, looking glasses, upholstery, counterpanes, rugs and blankets, lustres, girandoles, scones, lamps, cabinet-work [i.e. furniture], and stoves.
2. list of “articles in the Green Drawing Room which will be sold.”
3. list of “Prints purchased and at what prices.”
4. another list of prints headed “Size of the Impression”
09x111.1-.3 photographs of
.1 Memorandum signed by
13x76 envelope made from paper with watermark reading George Washington, written on the envelope is “Washington’s personal watermark.” The envelope is probably 20th century, possibly late 19th century.
copy of honorary degree granted to George Washington by the
(in a frame), from "Head Quarters/
has been identified by Timothy Trace as a forgery. This may be a
65x571 Inventory of purchases made by
photocopy and a typescript of the inventory, and a note about the significance
of the document are in
14x70 Letter, G. Washington, Mount Vernon, 18th July 1798, to Colonel William Heth. Concerns appointment of Heth as an aide if Washington is again made commander-in-chief of the army.
Partial watermark visible: includes the name George and the letter W.
Item is in a case, in a custom-made box.
[transcription is found at end of finding aid]
Series II: Portraits and monuments:
69x157.100 An engraving entitled “The Washington Family,” depicting George and Martha Washington, done by Illman & Sons. They sit at a table, he in uniform, she pointing at a map, with a village and an army encampment in the background. (other acc. no. 63.691)
69x157.102 An engraving entitled “Washington Resigning His Commission,”
done by H. L. Stephens and Augustus Robin of
69x157.181 Printed portrait of George Washington, he in oval surmounted by a liberty cap and supported by an eagle and flags, a copy of an engraving done by Walter Robinson in 1795. There is a red line through the drawing, probably to show it was a proof print. (other acc. no. 63.528)
69x157.182 Printed portrait of George Washington, a copy of an engraving published by H. S. Tanner. There is a red line through the drawing, probably to show it was a proof print. (other acc. no. 63.527)
69x157.183 Printed portrait of George Washington, as commander of the Continental Army, originally published in 1775 by C. Shepherd. There is a red line through the drawing, probably to show it was a proof print. (other acc. no. 63.526)
69x157.184 Printed portrait of George Washington, as commander of the Continental Army, a copy of an engraving done by Joh. Lorenz Rugendas, probably ca.1776. There is a red line through the drawing, probably to show it was a proof print. (other acc. no. 63.525)
71x22 Checks from the National Bank of the Northern
74x240 Certificate and receipt to Griswold Gilbert for membership to the Washington National Monument Society.
various engravings of the
80x126.5 picture of George Washington, with a solider on one side and the figure of Columbia on the other, possibly mourning his passing; printed on a card about the size of a trade card, circa 1800?
84x159.2 Postcard of a portrait of George Washington, ca. 1910
86x190 Reproduction of sheet music cover for “The Battle of
86x192.2 Engraved portrait of George Washington, which has been identified as a page from “Der Neue Hoch Deutsche Americanische Calender” for 1801, printed by Samuel Saur of Baltimore, Maryland.
print shows a portrait of
03x138.5 a card with a colored illustration depicting a very small
figure of the boy George Washington speaking to his father, with the caption
“Father I cannot tell a lie. I did it
with my little hatchet.” The
No acc. no. Some Account of the
Gibbs-Channing Portrait of
volume, privately printed,
71x63 Advertising folio for an engraving of “Washington and
His Staff at Valley Forge” by E. Moran (engraver) and Veron Fletcher (painter),
published by Hensel & Urwiler,
includes prices, drawing, and biographies of men in the picture, including
79x73 Print of a “eulogium” to George Washington, displaying a variety of writing styles and calligraphy drawings; the engraving was designed, written, and published by Benjamin Owen Tyler, professor of penmanship, New York City, 1817, as an advertisement for his services; the engraving was done by P. Maverick of Newark, New Jersey; the engraving includes a picture of George Washington, calligraphy angels and cherub heads, Masonic symbols, a sun, and poems.
of George Washington, surrounded by vignettes of his tomb,
[Two additional copies of this item are in the museum collection, accession 1977.586a-b.]
82x95 Advertisement for the same chromolithographed print of Washington and his staff as in 71x63, above.
84x170 Badge and ribbon with two sides from the Patriotic Order
Sons of America, Washington Camp 47, Penn’s Grove,
side is red, white, and blue, decorated with two images of
00x174 Lithographic print of the Washington National Monument, Washington, D.C.
print was copyrighted in 1885 by S. H. Austin of
00x175.1-.6 A portfolio of reproductions of five
portraits of George Washington, copyrighted in 1932 by Wood & Fielding,
issued in commemoration of the 200th anniversary of
portraits include one by Gilbert Stuart; “Washington at
Series III: Mount
85x190 photograph of
85x222.29 Postcard of the flower gardens at
85x222.66 Postcard of The River Room at
92x154 photograph of
[in folder with 85x190]
00x56.60 stereoscope view of the tomb of George Washington at
[in folder with 85x190]
02x14 A reproduction of “George Washington’s Map of His Mount Vernon Estate, Drawn by Him in 1793 and Based on His Own Surveys.”
(facsimile reproduction of the original in the Huntington Library)
No acc. no. Photograph of the layout of the grounds of
No acc. no. Pictorial chart showing numbers of slaves
and overseers at
The workers are divided according to the place where they worked: main house with its nearby service buildings, a mill, and several outlying farms. The groups include laboring men and women, skilled workers, old people, and children. It is not known when the chart was done, nor by whom.
Series IV: Ball invitations and programs:
76x73.1-.2 Invitation to a ball given in honor of Washington’s birthday, 1871, to be held at the Corcoran Art Gallery, Washington, D.C. The invitation was sent to Miss Mott.
Also a list of managers for the ball.
Invitation and list of managers printed by Philp & Solomons of Washington
80x166 Printed invitation to a ball held in honor of the centennial anniversary of the birth of George Washington, being held at City Hall in Albany, New York, on February 22, 1832. This invitation was sent to Lt. Colonel William P. Hawes.
The invitation includes a list of the managers of the ball, which included members of the state legislature.
An engraving of Washington decorates the invitation, which was printed by Rawdon, Clark & Co. on yellow paper.
80x167 Printed invitation to the Whig Young Men’s Ball, Commemorative of the Birth of Washington and the Battle of Buena Vista, to be held February 22, 1850 at the Musical Fund Hall (no city mentioned, but it was in Philadelphia), illustrated with portraits of Presidents George Washington and Zachary Taylor. The invitation includes the names of the floor manager, patrons, assistants, and members of the committee of arrangement. This invitation was sent to Miss Emma Price.
List of name
from acc. 65x571, George Washington’s account of furnishings for the
presidential residences in
Barry & Rogers
Barton, Benjn. S. (Dr.)
Breining, Geo. (also spelled Brening)
Brening, George - see Breining
Carter, Chas. L.
Carter, R. W.
Constable, Wm. & Co.
Cook, Jos. - see Cooke
Cooke, Joseph (also spelled Cook)
Morris , R.
Moutier, Ch de
Reynolds, Jas. & Henry
Robarts, Michl. – see Roberts
Robts. & Co.
Roberts, Michl. (also spelled Robarts)
Roosevelt, J. & N.
Roosevelt, Jno., Nichs., & J.
Sitgreaves, Jno. & W.
Sprague, Wm. P.
Transcription of 14x70:
Mount Vernon 18th July 1798
Your favor of the 13th instant, with its enclosures, came duly to hand; for your kindness in sending which, I thank you but I thank you more for the offer of becoming one of my aids, if I should again embark on a sea of troubles & responsibility, provided a Rank proportioned to your former grade & services could be insured to you. This, my good Sir, you would have to decide on yourself, by recuring[?] to the Law, which fixes the Rank of the Aids of the Commander in Chief*
*And altho’ I shall keep you constantly in mind, I do not mean to be under any promise for if I should be called out, [illegible] so many [illegible] to combine in my choice of Aids, that I wish to hold myself free & disengaged until that period arrives.
I have consented to accept the Appointment to which my country has called me, with a reservation not to quit my private walks until the Army is in a situation to require my presence (receiving no pay or emoluments during that time) or, it becomes indispensable by the urgency of circumstances!
Intoxicated with Power – soaring on ambition – and lost, as the Directory of France seems to be, to every principle of Justice & propriety; I yet hope, that they will pause before they take the last leap.
That they have miscaluated [sic, i.e. miscalculated] on the sense of the People of this Country, is evident from the unequivocal declarations of the latter, in all parts of the U. States to maintain their Independence, and support their Government at every hazard; and that they have been led into this error by characters among us; for purposes best known to themselves, is, to my mind, as clear as any problem in Euclid. Will they then, undeceived as they must be, in their information and estimates; and prepared as this country will be to meet them, attempt an invasion in Force? I think not, while Great Britain & they are at War. If Peace should take place in Europe, and more especially if they should be possessed of Louisiana & the Floridas - which Heaven avert! – I think, because I believe them capable of undertaking anything Bad, that the worst may be expect [sic]; for it the Dictory [sic, i.e. Directory] does not find money and employment for the army, the army will find most assuredly find persons to supply the places of the present Directory.
I think with you, that all secret enemies to the Peace & happiness of this country should be unmasked, for it is better to meet two enemies in the open field of contest, than one concealed behind the curtain. Many matters are pressing upon me, & I am very much hurried, as this scrawl but too clearly indicates; nor less on that account, and with thanks for your kind wishes, and favourable sentiments relatively [sic] to me,
I remain Dear Sir
Your obbed. & affect.
friend & Servant
Colo. Wm. Heth
18 July 1798
[the name Lewis Rogers is also written on the same side as the endorsement]