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EXTRAORDINARILY EARLY (1806) PRINTED LINEN KERCHIEF GLORIFYING GEORGE WASHINGTON, GERMANTOWN PRINT WORKS, GERMANTOWN, PENNSYLVANIA

Web ID: ker-173
Available: In Stock
Frame Size (H x L): 21.75" x 21.25
Flag Size (H x L): 11.75" x 11.5"
 
Description:
Printed in blue ink on coarse, white linen, this patriotic kerchief shows a standing portrait of George Washington, above which is a swag valance and the words “The Effect of Principle, Behold the Man”. The portrait is based on a mezzotint after Gilbert Stuart’s very famous painting of Washington in his later years. Stuart painted it in oil on canvas for a wealthy merchant by the name of William Constable, who commissioned the work for Alexander Hamilton.

The kerchief is interesting because it is both American-made and documented. This is exceptionally unusual for any printed textile of the 19th century or prior and the earlier the time period the more unlikely an object is to be identified. This kerchief and a companion piece entitled “The Love of Truth Mark the Boy” (also glorifying Washington through the fabled story of the cherry tree), were made ca 1806 by Germantown Print Works in Germantown, Pennsylvania.

To the left of Washington's image is a portion of his infamous farewell address to his troops at the end of the Revolutionary War. To the right is a short excerpt from his eulogy. Below these are three images. In the center is a square-rigged tall ship with “Commercial Union” above it, flanked by the American eagle on the left and the British lion on the right. It is reasonable to assume that the textile may have been produced in demonstration of the maker's desire, and/or that of others, to advance trade with England. Commercial printers were very influential in early America, as they possessed the means by which to disseminate information.

This kerchief and its companion piece are documented in Threads of History, Americana Recorded on Cloth, 1775 - the Present, by Herbert Ridgeway Collins (1979, Smithsonian Press), p. 63, items 38 & 39. The two pieces pictured are in the collection of Cornell University, but the Collins text also cites an uncut pair to be present in the collection of the Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland, OH. The name "Germantown Print Works" is printed on the Western Reserve examples. Another example of the textile in question is documented in "Running for President, The Candidates and Their Images, 1789-1896" by Schlesinger, Israel, and Frendt, (1994, Simon & Schuster), p. 15.

I have seen three different color variations of this textile, including sepia, mulberry red, and blue. This particular example has a hand-sewn binding along the top, lower, and left edges.

Mounting: The gilded American molding dates between 1820 and 1860. This is an excellent example and is circa 1820. The kerchief has been hand-stitched to 100% cotton, black in color. The background fabric was washed to reduce excess pigment. An acid-free, pigment-setting agent was added to the wash to further set the pigment and the fabric was heat-treated for the same purpose. Spacers keep the textile away from the glazing, which is U.V. protective glass.

Condition: The textile has been professionally cleaned. There is an early repair to a vertical tear in the left register, near the top, beneath the tassel. Very minor soiling and bleeding are present on the obverse. There is significant toning on the reverse. Overall condition is exceptional among surviving examples.
   
Collector Level: Advanced Collectors and the Person with Everything
Flag Type:
Star Count:
Earliest Date of Origin: 1806
Latest Date of Origin: 1815
State/Affiliation: Pennsylvania
War Association:
Price: Please call (717) 676-0545 or (717) 502-1281
E-mail: info@jeffbridgman.com


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