In 1837, Philadelphia stonemason John Struthers, with design assistance from architect William Strickland, created a marble sarcophagus for George Washington's remains at Mount Vernon. When the original lead casket was reentombed in the new sarcophagus, fragments of the decayed mahogany coffin in which it had been kept were saved as souvenirs. One piece was sent by Struthers to Jesse Hartley (1780-1860), a Liverpool businessman who had helped Struthers immigrate to the United States. Hartley commissioned this miniature replica to house the precious relic. This replica survives as a testament of the great reverence the world continues to have for Washington.
Miniature replica of the marble sarcophagus of George Washington containing a fragment from his coffin. Lid features cast decoration of a barred shield surmounted by an eagle and set against an American flag draped over an arrow pointing left; the name "WASHINGTON." engraved below. Case sides and base feature several engraved inscriptions. On the proper left side: "The portion of wood inserted in the lid of this facsimile of the/ Sarcophagus, was cut from the inner shell which encloses the remains/ of Washington, by Wm. Strickland, of Philadelphia, Architect, and/ John Struthers, of Philadelphia, Mason and Sculptor, who sent it/ to me, together with a printed historical description and engraving/ of the Sarcophagus, etc. John Struthers was born at Hawthorns/ in the Parish of Irvine, in Ayrshire, 22nd November, 1786, Jesse Hartley, Liverpool." On the proper right side: "THIS SARCOPHAGUS/ containing the remains of/ George Washington,/ first President of the United States,/ was made and presented for the purpose,/ BY/ JOHN STRUTHERS,/ of Philadelphia this_ day of_ A.D. 1837." On the foot: "By the permission of/ Lawrence Lewis, Esq./ This Sarcophagus of/ Washington was presented/ by John Struthers,/ of Philadelphia,/ Marble Mason." And on the head, in an affixed pointed shield: "GEORGE WASHINGTON/ BORN FEB. 22, 1732,/ DIED DECR. 14, 1799", with further inscription in the base below: "An Exact Representation of the Silver Shield or Escutcheon/ which was attached to the leaden coffin and which/ is now deposited in the Marble Sarcophagus."
Interior of lid and sarcophagus are gilded. Mounted on interior of lid is a rectangular piece of mahogany inscribed in script (in ink): "Washington's Coffin".
Silver, gilt, mahogany
Overall: 2 1/2 in. x 7 1/2 in. x 3 1/2 in. (6.35 cm x 19.05 cm x 8.89 cm)
Purchased with funds donated by the Monica and Hermen Greenberg Foundation, 2000
Conservation courtesy of the Life Guard Society of Historic Mount Vernon
Five stamps along bottom outside edge of lid (from right to left): calligraphy letter "W" in shield (partial; date letter); anchor in conforming surround (Birmingham Company mark); "R.E.A" in rectangle (maker's mark); lion passant in shield (partial; standard mark); sovereign's head, facing left, in oval (duty mark).
Three stamps along proper right base of sarcophagus (from left to right): sovereign's head, facing left, in oval (duty mark); "R.E.A." in rectangle (maker's mark), lion passant in shielf (standard mark).
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