"…another thing occurs which must not escape unnoticed-and that is, A Case bought of Phil Bell at the price of 17 Guineas-Surely, here must be as great a mistake, or as great an Imposition as ever was offerd by a Tradesman. The Case is a plain one, and such as I coud get made in this Country (where work of all kinds is very dear) of the same stuff, and equally as neat for less than four Guineas-is it possible then that 16 Galln Bottles with ground Stoppers can cost 13 Guineas? I think I might safely answer No. I woud have sent it back immediately, but being convinced that there must be some mistake in the Case I have postpond that resolution till you can make a proper enquiry into it, and advice [sic] me thereon." - George Washington to Robert Cary & Company, Mount Vernon, August 1, 1761

This case is believed to be the "Neat Mahagony [sic] Square Case with 16 Galln Bottles in ditto with ground Stoppers Brass lifting handles & brass Casters" that George Washington felt he was unfairly overcharged for in 1761. It originally sat on a low stand in one of the Mansion's dining rooms, from which it could be lifted and carried to the cellar. There, servants would have filled the bottles with wine, rum or other spirits. Entertaining was an important part of eighteenth-century life, and George Washington took seriously his guests' comfort and enjoyment. This case's generous capacity bespeaks of the great hospitality guests to Mount Vernon fondly recalled.


Large, square bottle case or chest fitted with sixteen, square baize-lined compartments. Case is mounted on two battens with metal casters. Bead molding nailed along edges of lid and case, cockbeading along lid and case openings. Base molding with chamfered top edge. Circular stamped brass pull at front center of lid; lock with solid, scrolled brass escutcheon at front center of case; and large brass bail handles with solid, scrolled backplates at case sides. Two brass butt hinges mounted at back inside of lid and case. Lid can be propped open by means of a quarter-round brass arm or support secured at top back left inside lid with notched end that rests on brass hardware screwed inside back left of case. Six-board bottom (varying widths, oriented front to back) nailed and screwed into case sides.

Holds bottles and stoppers, W-187/B-K, W-187/1-6

Previously catalogued as a wine chest. Alternate names for form include: bottle chest, liquor case or chest, spirits case or chest.


c. 1760




Mahogany (primary), spruce (secondary, dividers), brass, baize, glass


Overall (Height with casters, width and depth of base molding): 20 in. x 28 1/2 in. x 28 1/2 in. (50.8 cm x 72.39 cm x 72.39 cm)
Overall (Height without casters, width and depth of case): 18 in. x 28 3/8 in. x 28 3/8 in. (45.72 cm x 72.07 cm x 72.07 cm)

Credit Line

Purchase with partial funds donated by Mary F. Failing, Vice Regent for Oregon, 1927

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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