"I give and bequeath to my grandson George Washington Parke Custis…the new bedstead which I caused to be made in Philadelphia together with the bed, mattress bolsters and pillows and white dimity curtains belonging thereto…" - Martha Washington's Will

This generously-sized bedstead's tall, slender, turned posts, devoid of any carving, exemplify the elegant, neat and plain style the Washingtons favored. It is the only piece of furniture Martha Washington is documented as having been involved with purchasing. During the winter, it was hung with durable dimity curtains to ensure warmth and privacy, while netting installed in the warmer months kept insects out but permitted cool evening air to flow through. After George Washington died in this bed on December 14, 1799, Martha moved to a small, third-floor bedroom and never again entered their bedchamber.
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Date

1790-1797


Geography


Material/Technique

Mahogany (footposts), poplar (headposts), sycamore (outside side rail - original), yellow poplar (headboard), white pine (inside side rail [piece added after original pegs were sawed off])


Dimensions

Overall (H x W x D): 90 in. x 72 in. x 78 11/16 in. (228.6 cm x 182.88 cm x 199.81 cm)
Other (Height of footpost): 88 3/4 in. (225.43 cm)
Other (Headposts): 2 3/4 in. x 3 in. (6.99 cm x 7.62 cm)
Other (Footposts): 3 1/2 in. x 3 1/2 in. (8.89 cm x 8.89 cm)
Other (Inside dimensions of bedframe): 65 1/2 in. x 72 in. (166.37 cm x 182.88 cm)


Credit

Gift of George Washington Custis Lee, 1908


Marks

PL Headpost: Chiseled into the headrail side, next to the mortise: "I". Chiseled into the side rail side, next to the mortise: "VIII".

PL Footpost: Chiseled into the footrail side, next to the mortise: "IIII". (Side rail mortise mark not visible, as the side rail remained attached.)

PR Footpost: Chiseled into the footrail side, next to the mortise: "III". Chiseled into the side rail side, next to the mortise: "V".

PR Headpost: Chiseled into the headrail side, next to the mortise: "II". Chiseled into the side rail side, next to the mortise: "VI".

Headrail: Chiseled on the PL headpost end, inside and next to the tenon: "I". Chiseled on the PR headpost end, inside and next to the tenon: "II".

PL side rail: Chiseled on the PL headpost end, inside and next to the tenon:"VIII". Chiseled on the PL footpost end, inside: "IIII".

Footrail: Chiseled on the PL footpost end, inside and next to the tenon: "IIII". Chiseled on the PR footpost end, inside and next to the tenon: "III".

PR side rail: Chiseled on the PR footpost end, inside and next to the tenon: "V". Chiseled on the PR headpost end, inside and next to the tenon: "VI".


Object Number

W-194


Colors


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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