When traveling long distances, gentlemen conveyed their identity and social standing to the strangers they encountered through visual cues such as the quality of their personal clothing and equipage. The scarlet and off-white livery lace on these pistol holsters and holster "caps" indicates they were used by a trusted mounted servant who would have been dressed in colors taken from the Washington coat of arms. Liveried servants may have used these items to house and protect their pistols from the elements during Washington's presidential tour of the United States from 1789 to 1791.


Double tiered holster cap made from multiple layers of leather, linen, and buff broadcloth trimmed in a double row of red and off-white livery lace. The scalloped, three-pointed skirt is surmounted by a squat inverted teardrop shaped cover. The outermost layer of fabric on the cover is no longer associated with the piece. The skirt features the remnants of a leather tie at its center front and a half moon void in the upper most part of its body from which straps were passed to secure the cap to the saddle.

A tubular leather body with a flared bucket that abruptly tapers into an elongated neck. The top of the body features four integral loops self-fashioned from parallel punched holes, two on either side. The whole is formed from a piece of leather vertically seamed.





Flax, wool, leather


Overall (A.1): 17 13/16 in. x 10 1/4 in. (45.24 cm x 26.04 cm)
Overall (A.2): 13 in. x 5 1/4 in. x 2 3/16 in. (33.02 cm x 13.34 cm x 5.56 cm)

Credit Line

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