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

American Flag, 1865

Today marks the 113th birthday of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States.  To celebrate the occasion we thought we would share a piece of Lincoln memorabilia from the ATHM collection: an American flag presented to President Lincoln just three days prior to his assassination in 1865.

American Flag, 1865, Middlesex Company

 

This Flag was designed and created by Civil War Union General Benjamin Franklin Butler, part owner of the Middlesex Company in Lowell. It was presented to Lincoln for approval on April 11, 1865, three days before to the President was assassinated. Created in response to a law enacted on March 3 of the same year, specifying that all flags should be made from fabrics of American manufacturers, it was the first to be assembled entirely from American-made fabrics.

Butler’s flag features red, white, and blue worsted bunting and 37 hand-appliquéd white-cotton stars. The blue field and red and white stripes are of worsted bunting.  The stars are arranged in a diamond shape with vertical rows on either side.  Even though there were only 36 states in 1865, a 37th star was included in anticipation of Nebraska’s admission into the union.  The flag was hung from a linen heading with brass grommets.

General Butler went on to found the United States Bunting Company in December of 1865.  His company furnished flags for government use, however, they used a more conventional arrangement of stars.  The flag was later used to welcome General Ulysses S. Grant upon his visit to Brighton, England in 1877 and was flown at half-mast when President James Garfield was shot.

Contributed by Jane Ward, Assistant Librarian