Firebacks served the practical (and valuable) purpose of protecting the bricks lining a fireplace from heat damage. The firebacks at Mount Vernon, emblazoned with George Washington's crest and monogram, additionally served as a tangible reminder that he was master of this mansion and the profitable estate on which it stood. Washington custom ordered the "4 Chimney Backs & 8 side Plates or Jambs" in June and August of 1787 through Batsto Furnace's Philadelphia agent, Charles Pettit (1736-1806). The finished products arrived at Mount Vernon in late November. Two of the four sets still remain in place in the West Parlor and Washington Bedchamber.


Puddle-cast iron fireback and two jambs, or side pieces. Horizontal, rectangular fireback is shaped with an inset flat arch along top and has raised ovolo edges along the top and sides. Decorated at center with a crest featuring a griffin emerging from a coronet with three strawberry leaves above the cipher or monogram "GW" in a horizontal oval cartouche.

Two, vertical, rectangular jambs are cyma-arched along their tops and have raised ovolo edges along the tops and far (interior) sides.

One of two sets consisting of firebacks and jambs with "GW" crest and cipher; see also W-224 (in Washington Bedchamber).

Alternate name includes: chimney back.






Cast iron


Overall (Depth is along top edge): 33 1/2 in. x 38 3/4 in. x 1 in. (85.09 cm x 98.43 cm x 2.54 cm)
Overall (Jambs): 42 in. x 17 3/4 in. x 1 in. (106.68 cm x 45.09 cm x 2.54 cm)
Overall (Decoration): 11 1/4 in. x 7 1/2 in. (28.58 cm x 19.05 cm)

Credit Line

Transferred to the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association through the generosity of John Augustine Washington III, 1860

Object Number


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.
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