Label

As president, George Washington was well aware of his role as tastemaker for the new nation. He sought to surround himself with simple, yet refined goods of the highest quality that would best serve his needs. One such example is this silver inkstand, made in the mid-1790s by the London silversmith Henry Chawner. The handsomely designed object also speaks to Washington's emphasis on utility, as it features one pounce box and two inkwells. A prolific letter writer, Washington may have specifically asked for an extra ink well rather than the usual pen holder.

Description

A:
Sterling silver boat-like oval inkstand on four bracket feet with reeded borders. The center of the inkstand is plateaued to receive the three, short rimmed, round galleries that are designed to hold each of the three glass bottles. The galleries are sized to fit the circumference of their respective glass bottles and are anchored to the tray by two tabs that extend from their bottom edge and pierce precut holes. The tabs project through the holes; each tab has a drilled hole at its end. Every gallery is secured by the two tabs that are physically anchored to the tray by the insertion of one pin. Encircling the plateau is a shallow well, the ends of which extend to form integral handles that raise to a gentle peak.

B:
Colorless glass blown into a cylindrical form with cut facets and a proud lip. The bottle features large vertical facets that terminate in a double layer of diamond diapering. Above the diamond diapering are flat facets that angle towards the top lip of the bottle, which is covered in a layer of silver. Over the silvered lip fits a seamed flat cap with reeded edges and a centered hole.

C:
Colorless glass blown into a cylindrical form with cut facets and a proud lip. The bottle features large vertical facets that terminate in a double layer of diamond diapering. Above the diamond diapering are flat facets that angle towards the top lip of the bottle which is covered in a layer of silver. Over the silvered lip fits a seamed flat cap with reeded edges and a pierced top with scattered quatrefoils and small holes.

D:
Colorless glass blown into a cylindrical form with cut facets and a proud lip. The bottle features large vertical facets that terminate in a double layer of diamond diapering. Above the diamond diapering are flat facets that angle towards the top lip of the bottle which is covered in a layer of silver. Over the silvered lip fits a seamed flat cap with reeded edges and a centered hole.

Date

c. 1796


People


Geography


Material/Technique

A: Silver B: Glass, silver C:Glass, silver D:Glass, silver


Dimensions

Overall (A): 7 7/16 in. x 3 5/16 in. x 1 3/16 in. (18.92 cm x 8.38 cm x 3.05 cm)
Overall (B): 1 5/8 in. x 1 1/4 in. (4.11 cm x 3.18 cm)
Overall (C): 1 7/8 in. x 1 3/8 in. (4.78 cm x 3.49 cm)
Overall (D): 1 3/4 in. x 1 1/4 in. (4.45 cm x 3.18 cm)


Credit Line

Gift of Mary Lee Bowman and Robert E. Lee IV, 1981


Marks

A: Seventeen hallmarks are present on the inkstand. Five hallmarks can be seen on the bottom of the ink stand. They are: Henry Chawner's makers mark, "HC"; the sterling standard mark of the lion passant; the London city mark of the crowned leopard head; the date letter "A"; the duty mark of the head of the sovereign King George William Frederick. The remaining twelve are distributed along the back side of the three silver galleries and are smaller than those on the reverse. From left to right they are: left gallery - the duty mark of the head of the sovereign King George William Frederick, the city mark of the lion passant, the date letter "A", the makers mark "HC"; middle gallery - the duty mark of the head of the sovereign King George William Frederick, the city mark of the lion passant, the date letter "A", the makers mark "HC"; right gallery - the makers mark "HC", the date letter "A", the city mark lion passant, the duty mark of the head of the sovereign King George William Frederick.

C:Four hallmarks are present on the side of the pounce box cap. They are: makers mark, "HC"; duty mark of the head of King George William Frederick (1738-1820); city mark of the the lion passant; the date letter "A".


Object Number

W-2520/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.
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