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Although many American gentleman of his stature wore powdered wigs, George Washington preferred to have his own hair powdered and dressed in a tightly braided queue. For formal occasions, the queue was encased in a black silk bag drawn closed by a tie concealed under a black bow or rosette. Relatively few hair bags survive today, and this rare example is the only one known of the many worn by Washington. Painted portraits of Washington as president record his use of a similar hair bag.

See the portrait of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart, H-4.


Black silk hair bag constructed of black silk taffeta lined with plain-weave linen buckram; the upper edge has been folded under twice with a .5" hem and stitched by hand with black silk thread in a running stitch; both of the upper side seams are open, 1.5" on the proper right and 3.75" on the proper left; the back of the bag is padded with soft material that extends 3.25" up from the lower edge; stitched to the front of the bag is a black grosgrain ribbon rosette which consists of six loops of black ribbon on top of which is sewn a rosette made from several lengths of ribbon, clipped on each end to form a sawtooth edge, stacked together and tied at center, and arranged to flare out in a circle.





Silk, linen


Overall: 11 1/4 in. x 6 7/8 in. (28.58 cm x 17.48 cm)
Other (Bag): 9 in. (22.86 cm)
Other (Rosette): 5 1/4 in. x 5 1/4 in. (13.34 cm x 13.34 cm)

Credit Line

Gift of Mrs. Lyttleton B. P. Gould, Jr., M. Chapin Krech, Dr. Shepard Krech, Alvin W. Krech, Peter Chapin, Charles Chapin, and Mrs. Charles Merrill Chapin III, in memory of Esther Maria Lewis Chapin, 1986
Conservation courtesy of the Life Guard Society of Historic Mount Vernon

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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