Before cardboard boxes, packing peanuts, and styrofoam, wooden packing cases were the norm in shipping containers. George Washington’s orders for goods from London and Philadelphia regularly included additional charges for the construction of custom cases. Tradition has it that General Washington used this case to transport military goods. Later generations of the Washington family continued to use it as a secure shipping and storage box.


Large, nearly square packing case or storage box, grain painted to imitate mahogany or cherry, with leather covered rope handles nailed into the center of each side. An L-shaped clasp is mounted to the center front edge of the top, and a U-hook is mounted below it on the front. A keyhole is cut into the top center of the front. An octagonal iron plate affixed with one screw, is intended to cover it.

The case is dovetailed together at each corner. Each side and the top is formed from two wide boards joined with a spline joint. The sides are nailed to the bottom along their bottom edge. Inside the case, iron strips have been nailed to the front and back at their corners as reinforcement. The top was originally hinged to the top edge of the back with two hinges, but is no longer attached. A thin iron plate is screwed onto the underside of the top at center back. The underside of the front edge of the top has two impressions indicating the placement of additional hinges or metal plates. Two battens are screwed into the top from the underside. U-hooks in the upper back interior sides of the case and the underside back of the top suggest that at one time, the top was connected to the sides with small chains.

The lock is missing. Two additional pine boards are stored with the case, but their purpose is not clear.

see also 69-25 alternalte MVLA number


Possibly 1775-1800, with later alterations



White pine, yellow pine, paint, iron, rope, leather


Overall (H x W x D): 30 3/4 in. x 39 1/2 in. x 29 3/8 in. (78.11 cm x 100.33 cm x 74.61 cm)

Credit Line

Gift of Mrs. Samuel J. Broadwell, Vice Regent for Ohio, 1890


Stenciled in white paint on the proper right side: “C. W. VA”.

Stenciled in white paint on the proper left side: “GEO:. WASHINGTON/ VIRGINIA”.

Object Number


Colors (Beta)

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