"…another thing occurs which must not escape unnoticed-and that is, A Case bought of Phil Bell at the price of 17 Guineas-Surely, here must be as great a mistake, or as great an Imposition as ever was offerd by a Tradesman. The Case is a plain one, and such as I coud get made in this Country (where work of all kinds is very dear) of the same stuff, and equally as neat for less than four Guineas-is it possible then that 16 Galln Bottles with ground Stoppers can cost 13 Guineas? I think I might safely answer No. I woud have sent it back immediately, but being convinced that there must be some mistake in the Case I have postpond that resolution till you can make a proper enquiry into it, and advice [sic] me thereon." - George Washington to Robert Cary & Company, Mount Vernon, August 1, 1761

This case is believed to be the "Neat Mahagony [sic] Square Case with 16 Galln Bottles in ditto with ground Stoppers Brass lifting handles & brass Casters" that George Washington felt he was unfairly overcharged for in 1761. It originally sat on a low stand in one of the Mansion's dining rooms, from which it could be lifted and carried to the cellar. There, servants would have filled the bottles with wine, rum or other spirits. Entertaining was an important part of eighteenth-century life, and George Washington took seriously his guests' comfort and enjoyment. This case's generous capacity bespeaks of the great hospitality guests to Mount Vernon fondly recalled.



c. 1760




Mahogany (primary), spruce (secondary, dividers), brass, baize, glass


Overall (Height with casters, width and depth of base molding): 20 in. x 28 1/2 in. x 28 1/2 in. (50.8 cm x 72.39 cm x 72.39 cm)
Overall (Height without casters, width and depth of case): 18 in. x 28 3/8 in. x 28 3/8 in. (45.72 cm x 72.07 cm x 72.07 cm)


Purchase with partial funds donated by Mary F. Failing, Vice Regent for Oregon, 1927

Object Number



Mount Vernon's object research is ongoing and information about this object is subject to change. For information on image use and reproductions, click here.
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