Lacking formal training as a draftsman or architect, George Washington developed his skills through practice and by consulting printed manuals. Though few of his rendered drawings survive, those that do show his exacting concern for detail. This set of pocket drawing instruments may have been used by Washington to create the initial design for a new structure or landscape feature at Mount Vernon while he was taking the lay of the land. It features a divider, pencil, and drawing scale in its compact red morocco leather case.

See also West elevation and cellar floor plan of Mount Vernon, W-1369/A.

Description

A: Oblong drafting tool case made of sandwiched layers of olive green leather-lined paper board faced with thin red morocco leather; assembled from two pieces of paper board, forming the front and back, sewn together at the side seams, the front piece terminates at the case opening, whereas the back extends beyond the mouth to form an overhanging flap lid that narrows into a tongue that is secured closed by a horizontal strap on the case front; the exterior of the case is decorated with two tooled lines that run along the edges of the body and across the apex of the self-fashioned cover; the interior cavity is divided with two paper board spacers to house the three accompanying drafting instruments.

B:
Copper-alloy and iron single-hand divider; made of two pointed iron arms fused to a copper-alloy hinge joint featuring cut-back finger holds.

C:
Cylindrical wood and ceramic-graphite pencil featuring a metal lipped cap, anchored to the wood case by a metal pin.

D:
Ivory and metal drawing scale; folding rule made from two ivory arms anchored together with a concealed metal pivot hinge affixed with two metal pins set on the diagonal; ends of the arms are protected by c-shaped sheaths of white metal fastened to the ivory with a copper-alloy pin; the arms are marked with the French "pied du roi" scale along their unfolded lengths; the bottom line segment is split into six "pouces," the middle line segment is divided into twenty four units, and the upper line segment is divided into seventy two "lignes"; each pouce is numbered one through five, the sixth is left off; the same is repeated on the obverse; "Paris" is incised on the proper right side of the obverse.

Date

1775-1795


Geography


Material/Technique

A: Leather, paper board, flax B: Copper alloy, iron C: Graphite, wood, brass D: Ivory, white metal, ferrous metal, copper alloy


Dimensions

Overall (A: case (closed)): 3 7/8 in. x 1 7/8 in. x 3/8 in. (9.86 cm x 4.78 cm x 0.91 cm)
Other (B: divider): 2 7/8 in. x 3/8 in. x 1/8 in. (7.32 cm x 0.97 cm x 0.33 cm)
Other (C: pencil): 1 5/8 in. x 1/4 in. x 1/4 in. (4.14 cm x 0.64 cm x 0.64 cm)
Other (D: ruler (folded)): 3 5/16 in. x 7/16 in. x 1/8 in. (8.41 cm x 1.12 cm x 0.33 cm)


Credit Line

Purchase, 1981
Conservation courtesy of Harry and Erika Lister


Marks

D: Incised into the ivory and rubbed with pigment on the proper right side of the obverse of the rule when closed: "2", "1", "Paris".
Incised into the ivory and rubbed with pigment on the proper left side of the obverse of the rule when closed: "4", "5".
Incised into the ivory and rubbed with pigment on the proper right side of the reverse of the rule when closed: "2", "1".
Incised into the ivory and rubbed with pigment on the proper left side of the reverse of the rule when closed: "4", "5".


Object Number

W-2806/A-D


Colors (Beta)


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.
Buy Tickets What to See Calendar Shop Restaurant Donate Membership
Estate Hours

Open today from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm

iconDirections & Parking
buy tickets online & save