The Winterthur Library

 The Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera

Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum

5105 Kennett Pike, Winterthur, Delaware  19735

Telephone: 302-888-4600 or 800-448-3883





Creator:         Washington, George, 1732-1799                               

Title:               Papers and Printed Ephemera

Dates:             1780-1985

Call No.:         Col. 384         

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 Mount Vernon was purchased by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, preserved, and opened to the public. 





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 Washington is also in the collection.  Information specifically related to Washington’s estate of Mount Vernon includes a drawing showing the layout of the grounds and a pictorial chart showing the numbers of slaves.  In addition, there are a few photos and postcards of Mount Vernon.





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.





The materials are in English and German.





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.



            Washington National Monument Society.

Patriotic Order Sons of America.

Whig Party (U.S.)

Mount Vernon (Va. : Estate).

            Washington Monument (Washington, D.C.)

            Legislators – New York (State).

            Calligraphy – Specimens.

            Penmanship, American – Study and teaching.

            Slavery – Virginia.

            Balls (Parties).

            Presidents – Dwellings – United States.

            Printed ephemera.

            Self-report inventories.

            Dwellings - Inventories.

            Invitation cards.


            Forgery of manuscripts.

            Portrait painting.

            Portrait drawing.






Location: 34 D 6



Series I: Letters and documents (real and forged, also copies):   


Box 1:


54x107            Letter from Washington refusing dinner with Lord Sterling. May 15, 1780.

                        [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 France


62x102            Letter from Washington, Mount Vernon, to Tristram Dalton, Esq., Georgetown,  April 24, 1795.  About naming a Virginian as a commissioner of the new federal city.

                        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.

                        The original document is in Box 2.


65x730            Photocopy of check: Bank of Delaware check no. 146, dated October 2, 1796, Wilmington, “Pay to George Washington, Esq., Ten thousand dollars 00 cents,” signed John Adams.  The check was printed by Bonsal & Niles.

                        [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 Fort Necessity. 

                        Photostats of pages from a journal kept by J. Wood of Williamsburg, Virginia, from 1749-1757.  He was a clerk in Williamsburg.  The four page entry concerning Washington is the only one of its type in the book.  Copied by permission of the owner, Carl Jacobs, Southwick, Massachusetts, January 12, 1955.  3 copies of each page.  (index no. 4053)


Ph 1394.1-.4    Inventories from the President’s house, Philadelphia, 1796-1797.

                        Photostats of inventories in Washington’s hand. 

                        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 Washington documents owned by Metropolitan Museum of Art:

                        .1         Memorandum signed by Washington about work to be done on his swords and scabbards, “Col. Hay will be so obliging as to induce Mr. Bayley to do this small job as soon as possible.”  Nov. 16, 1779. 

                        .2         Washington, New Windsor, [Conn.], Dec. 19, 1780, to Gov. George Clinton, [New York], requesting exception from militia service for the workmen at the armory in Albany.

                        .3         Washington, Mount Vernon, March 27, 1798, to Miles Smith, New Jersey, extending an invitation to Smith so they may speak of husbandry


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.



Box 2:


75x275.4         photostatic copy of honorary degree granted to George Washington by the University of Pennsylvania, 1783(?), signed by the president and professors


78x303            Pass (in a frame), from "Head Quarters/Bergen County/Sept. 12th, 1780."/Permission is granted to Mr. Boudinot/with his negro man Eli . to pass and repass/the picket at Ramapo.-/  Go. Washington" 

                        This has been identified by Timothy Trace as a forgery. This may be a Robert Spring forgery according to Linda Eaton, Conservation Dept.


65x571            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. 

                        [A photocopy and a typescript of the inventory, and a note about the significance of the document are in Box 1.  An index to the names in this document may be found appended to this finding aid.]



Box 3:


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:


Box 1:


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 New York.  It depicts Washington handing in his resignation as commander of the army, while Congress looks on.  The engraving is mounted on a piece of paper, on back of which are engraved portraits of Brigham Young and Horace Wells.  (other acc. no. 63.693)


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 Liberties, Philadelphia, with Washington’s portrait printed on them, 1870s.


74x240            Certificate and receipt to Griswold Gilbert for membership to the Washington National Monument Society.

                        Includes various engravings of the Washington Monument and one of George Washington.  The certificate is signed by Zachary Taylor and others.


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 Prague” with Washington’s profile.


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. 

                        The print shows a portrait of Washington on a tomb, with women in classical dress and weeping willows on either side of the obelisk and an eagle at its base.  On the back are poems(?) and notices in German.  (A copy of this calendar is available in Rare Books.)


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 illustration shows Washington holding a very small hatchet and standing next to a large cherry tree stump on which are carved the initials G.W.  At his feet is a horse pull toy.  The drawing was done or printed by Tobin of New York.



Box 2:


No acc. no.      Some Account of the Gibbs-Channing Portrait of Washington Painted by Gilbert Stuart.

                        Bound volume, privately printed, New York, 1900.  Letters and articles laid in; one letter is from Avery, owner of portrait.


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, Philadelphia.  n.d. 

                        Also includes prices, drawing, and biographies of men in the picture, including Washington.  (see also 82x95)


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.


82x8                Portrait of George Washington, surrounded by vignettes of his tomb, Mount Vernon, and an allegorical figure, mounted in a piece of wood.  The portrait was designed by H. Billings and engraved by the American Bank Note Co. in 1859.  On back of the wood is a certificate (part of it is missing) stating that the item was issued on November 14, 1859, in Washington, D.C., and that the frame was made by the Mount Vernon Factory from wood grown at Mount Vernon, under the supervision of J. Crutchett.  John A. Washington, the owner of Mount Vernon in 1859 (he was in the process of selling it to the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association), cooperated in the issue of this item.

                        [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, New Jersey, 1894-1896. 

                        One side is red, white, and blue, decorated with two images of Washington and a pair of flags.  The other side is black ribbon with silver writing, starting with “In Memoriam.”  The badge was made by the Whitehead and Hoag Co. of Newark, N.J.


00x174            Lithographic print of the Washington National Monument, Washington, D.C. 

                        The print was copyrighted in 1885 by S. H. Austin of Philadelphia.  The monument was not actually built as it is depicted in this print.  Also included are small pictures of “Washington Resigning His Commission to Congress,” a view of the Continental Congress signing the Declaration of Independence, and a portrait of Washington.  As well, there are some statistics about the monument and the heights of other monuments.


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 Washington’s birth. 

                        The portraits include one by Gilbert Stuart; “Washington at Mount Vernon, 1772” and “Washington at Valley Forge,” both by Charles Willson Peale; “Washington at Trenton” by John Trumbull; and a bust by Jean Antoine Houdon.



Series III: Mount Vernon and tomb of Washington: photos, postcards, etc.


Box 1:


85x190            photograph of Mount Vernon, the land side (as opposed to the portico side, which faces the river), with tourists wandering around the grounds, ca.1920-1940


85x222.29       Postcard of the flower gardens at Mt. Vernon, ca.1940s


85x222.66       Postcard of The River Room at Mt. Vernon, ca.1940s


92x154            photograph of Mount Vernon, the land side (as opposed to the portico side, which faces the river), second half of the 19th century.

                        [in folder with 85x190]


00x56.60         stereoscope view of the tomb of George Washington at Mount Vernon, with a brief description on the back; published by J. F. Jarvis of Washington, D.C.

                        [in folder with 85x190]


Box 2:


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 Mt. Vernon, showing placement of house, service buildings, slave quarters, barn, and vegetable and flower gardens.


No acc. no.      Pictorial chart showing numbers of slaves and overseers at Mt. Vernon. 

                        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:


Box 1:


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.


87x162            Dover Country Dancers. “George Washington Birthday Ball” program, 1985. Dover, Delaware.

List of name from acc. 65x571, George Washington’s account of furnishings for the presidential residences in New York and Philadelphia, 1789-1796


Abbett, Sermon

Anthony, Josh.


Barry & Rogers

Bartault, G.

Bartault Upholstery


Barteau, G.

Barton, Benjn. S. (Dr.)

Bower, Jno.

Brasher, E.

Brasher, Ephram.

Breining, Geo. (also spelled Brening)

Breining, John

Brener, John

Brening, George - see Breining


Bringhurst, J. 

Bringhurst, Jno.

Brome, Jno.

Buckle, Willm.

Burling, Thos.


Callaghan, David

Carter, Chas. L.

Carter, R. W.

Constable, Wm. & Co.

Cook, Jos. - see Cooke

Cooke, Joseph (also spelled Cook)


Davis, Jno.

Douglass, A.

Dunlap, Saml.




Fielderton, Thos.


Ingle, Henry


Lane, Willm.


Lear, T.

Lusby, Jos.


McCall, Archd.


McElwee, Jno.

M., R.

Morris, G.

Morris, Gouvr.

Morris , R.

Mountford, Timothy

Moutier, Ch de


Nathan, Moses





Passmore, Thos.


R., N.


Reynolds, James

Reynolds, Jas. & Henry

Richardson, Jos.

Robarts, Michl. – see Roberts

Robts. & Co.

Roberts, Michl. (also spelled Robarts)

Rogers, John

Roosevelt, J. & N.

Roosevelt, Jno., Nichs., & J.


Sitgreaves, Jno.

Sitgreaves, Jno. & W.

Sprague, Wm. P.


Washington, George

Washington, Martha

Wolcott, Oliver


Transcription of 14x70:


 Mount Vernon 18th July 1798


Dear Sir:


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

                                                Go. Washington.


Colo. Wm. Heth



Go. Washington

18 July 1798


[the name Lewis Rogers is also written on the same side as the endorsement]