George Washington’s Defender punch bowl links the American Revolution, the merchant marine, and the infant United States Navy. Made of Chinese export porcelain in 1795, it was custom-decorated in China for Captain Thomas Truxtun (1755-1822), who presented it to President Washington.
During the American Revolutionary War, Truxtun operated as a daring privateer. His success at capturing enemy ships prompted Washington to toast his services as equal to those of a regiment. In 1786, Truxtun commanded the Canton, one of the finest American ships to engage in trade with China. President Washington, perhaps referring to a second voyage, wrote on May 6, 1792, of a “return from the East-Indies which is expected to be sometime next Spring, or Summer”.
The inside of the bowl features a 44-gun frigate, originally drawn for Truxtun by naval architect Josiah Fox. To honor Washington’s service as Commander-in-Chief, Truxtun had the word “DEFENDER” painted below the ship. The blue and gold border was a standard decoration on bowls stocked by the china merchants of the time.
Mount Vernon fine porcelain replica Truxtun bowl is 10” in diameter and 4” in height. The bowl is offered in a handsome dark blue presentation box, with an enclosed provenance card.
Through the courtesy of a private owner, George Washington’s original Truxtun Defender Bowl is currently on display at Mount Vernon.