Presidents in the ATHM Collection

In honor of President’s Day – the official federal holiday honoring the 1732 birth of George Washington – we are posting some Presidential-themed items from ATHM’s permanent collection. Portraits of Presidents adorn several items in the collection, including ribbons, cloth labels, yard goods, handkerchiefs, and bookmarks. Below are some of our favorites:

Apotheosis of George Washington and Benjamin Franklin, c. 1785; Gift of Rosita Corey and Elizabeth Bourguin; 1996.26

This is a fragment featuring an apotheosis of George Washington copperplate-printed on linen and cotton. Likely from England, an unknown manufacturer made the piece as early as about 1785, soon after the American Revolution against England. It was common for English manufacturers to supply the American market with textiles that honored American heroes of the Revolution. In this scene George Washington is accompanied by “America” who wears a feathered headdress and carries a plaque proclaiming American independence. One of the trumpeting Native Americans has a banner that looks much like the American flag.

Abraham Lincoln, c. 1940; Gift of Russell Knight; 1981.7

Manufactured by Henry Bauer in Lawrence, Massachusetts around 1940, this woven rayon textile features a portrait of Abraham Lincoln. A German immigrant in the United States who operated a small in mill in Lawrence from 1915 to 1951, Bauer made corset cloth, shoe cloth, and textile novelties such as this portrait. According to a friend and business partner, Bauer especially admired America’s sixteenth President.

Coverlet, 1847; 1998.69.98

Detail

James Cunningham wove this coverlet in 1847 in New Hartford, New York at a time when coverlets were a popular bedcovering. Made of cotton and wool, the coverlet features a portrait of George Washington on horseback along with the American General and President’s name in the corner.  Patriotic themes like eagles and stars are common on coverlets, but most do not feature a portrait of Washington like Cunningham’s piece.

We hope you enjoyed these Presidential selections from the ATHM collection and look forward to bringing you more Patriotic textiles this Independence Day!

Contributed by Diane Fagan Affleck

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