Antique George Washington Kerchief | Made to Celebrate the Centennial of His Inauguration | Circa 1889

Antique George Washington Kerchief
Antique George Washington Kerchief
3. 23rd St. ARch, Washington Inaugural Centennial Celebration, New York City, April 29th and 30th, and May 1st, 1889.jpg
4. Pressident Harrison Arrives at Wall Street by Boat.jpg
5. Parade Passing Union Square on Broadway , New York City.jpeg
6. Large Distressed Gold.JPG
7. Medium Frames.JPG
8. Large Frames.JPG
Antique George Washington Kerchief
Antique George Washington Kerchief
3. 23rd St. ARch, Washington Inaugural Centennial Celebration, New York City, April 29th and 30th, and May 1st, 1889.jpg
4. Pressident Harrison Arrives at Wall Street by Boat.jpg
5. Parade Passing Union Square on Broadway , New York City.jpeg
6. Large Distressed Gold.JPG
7. Medium Frames.JPG
8. Large Frames.JPG

Antique George Washington Kerchief | Made to Celebrate the Centennial of His Inauguration | Circa 1889

8,450.00

Frame Size (H x L): 33” x 33”  
Bandanna Size (H x L): 22” x 22”

Offered is an antique George Washington kerchief made to celebrate the 100th anniversary of his inauguration.  The top third of the kerchief includes a blue field and thirteen stars, and the bottom two-thirds includes vertical red-and-white stripes.  The center of the kerchief features a profile view of Washington, and his profile is within a shield.  An eagle is perched above the shield.  Patriotic shields are positioned in the upper left and right corners of the kerchief.  Like the field of the kerchief, the patriotic shields each include an upper blue field and thirteen stars, and they each further include a lower portion of vertical red-and-white stripes. 

Washington was the Commander-and-Chief of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War and the president of the 1787 Constitutional Convention.  His leadership in the Continental Army and in the Constitutional Convention made him a preeminent founding father and his presidency a foregone conclusion.  Washington’s first election was held over a period of two weeks, starting in December of 1788 and ending in January of 1789.  The United States Electoral College elected him to the presidency unanimously with 69 of the 69 first round votes, and elected John Adams to the vice-presidency with 34 of 69 first round votes (i.e., each voter casted two votes).  The remaining 35 votes were split amongst 10 different candidates.  Washington was again reelected unanimously in 1792.   

In April of 1789, Washington traveled from his home in Mount Vernon to his inauguration in New York City, then the nation’s capital.  His trip took seven days, and he was greeted by crowds throughout the trip, particularly in Alexandria, Baltimore, Wilmington, Philadelphia, and Trenton.  He arrived in Elizabeth, New Jersey on April 23rd, took a ceremonial barge to Manhattan, and was inaugurated on April 30th.  His inauguration took place to cheering crowds on a balcony of the Federal Hall, and Chancellor Robert R. Livingston, the national’s highest-ranking judge, administered the Oath of Office.  Following the oath, Livingston shouted, “Long live George Washington, President of the United States!”  Washington then bowed to the crowd, retired to the Senate chamber, and delivered his inaugural address.

Celebrations recognizing the centennial of Washington’s inauguration were held throughout the country, but most notably in New York, the preeminent American city and the place at which the actual inauguration took place.  The Washington Centennial Celebration (“Celebration”) was held on April 29th, April 30th, and May 1st, 1889, but planning began five years earlier.  Because of the careful planning associated with the Celebration and because of the growth of New York, the Celebration in 1889 was much larger and more elaborate the inauguration itself in 1789.

Thousands of spectators attended the Celebration, and it included parades, fireworks, receptions, concerts, and military displays.  President Benjamin Harrison was the guest of honor.  Harrison was a moderate Republican, and was elected the 23rd president in the election of 1888.  Harrison ran against Grover Cleveland, the incumbent President and a Democrat.  Harrison lost the popular vote, but won the electoral vote with 233 electoral votes to Cleveland's 168.

Harrison took his own oath of office only two months prior to the Celebration.  He left Washington D.C. on April 28th, 1889.  Like Washington a hundred years before, Harrison was greeted by crowds throughout his trip and arrived to fanfare in New York City.  On April 30th, he gave the following speech:

Mr. Chairman, my Countrymen—official duty of a very exacting character has made it quite impossible that I should deliver an address on this occasion.  Foreseeing this, I early notified your committee that the program must not contain any address by me.  The selection of Mr. Depew as the orator of this occasion makes further speech not only difficult, but superfluous.  He has met the demand of this great occasion on its own high level.  He has brought before us the incidents and the lessons of the first inauguration of Washington.  We seem to have been a part of that admiring and almost adoring throng that filled these streets one hundred years ago.         

We have come into the serious, but always inspiring, presence of Washington.  He was the incarnation of duty, and he teaches us today this great lesson: That those who would associate their names with events that shall outlive a century can only do so by high consecration to duty.  Self-seeking has no public observance or anniversary.  The captain who gives to the sea his cargo of goods, that he may give safety and deliverance to his imperiled fellowman, has fame; he who lands the cargo has only wages.  Washington seemed to come to the discharge of the duties of his high office impressed with a great sense of his unfamiliarity with these new calls thrust upon him, modestly doubtful of his own ability, but trusting implicitly in the sustaining helpfulness and grace of that God who rules the world, presides in the councils of nations, and is able to supply every human defect.  We have made marvelous process in materials things since then, but the stately and enduring shaft that we have erected at the national capital at Washington symbolizes the fact that he is still the First American Citizen.      

This kerchief is not documented in the Threads of History, written by Herbert Ridgeway Collins.  Collins was the curator of the Division of Political History at the Smithsonian Institute.  His book is the best reference available for political textile collectors and includes over 1500 examples, dating from 1775 to 1979.  In writing his book, Mr. Collins sent thousands of letters to collectors, museums, and universities, and requested their assistance in documenting every political textile.  Despite his efforts, this kerchief is not documented therein, which points to its rarity.  In fact, in our research—even with online assistance—we were only able to find one other example.  This other example is held in the Mark Shenkman Collection.  Shenkman is the founder and president of Shenkman Capital Management Inc., and the leading collector of presidential campaign flags and textiles.

Conservation Process: This kerchief was hand sewn to cotton fabric, and both were hand sewn to a mounting board.  To prevent the black dye in the cotton fabric from seeping into the kerchief, it was first washed in a standard wash and then in a dye setting wash.  The kerchief is positioned behind a UV resistant acrylic, and spaced apart therefrom using spacers. 

Frame: This kerchief is in our Large Distressed Gold Frame.  However, it can be reframed and would look great using any one of our Medium or Large Frames, which are shown in the final two images.  The pricing associated with the different framing options may vary.  Reframing of an offering may delay shipment by up to two weeks.

Condition Report: As shown in the images, this kerchief is bright but exhibits some minor stains.  Most notably, there is a stain on Washington’s chin and shirt, and there is a stain to the right of Washington (partially on the white field of the shield and partially on the blue field with the stars).  The other stains are minor and age appropriate.  Overall—particularly given the rarity of this kerchief—it is in good condition and displays well.          

Collectability Level: The Extraordinary – Museum Quality Offerings   
Date of Origin: 1889  

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