One of the more elegant forms of floor covering in late-eighteenth century America, plush woven, cut-pile carpets rarely survive today. This extraordinary example features the American eagle at its center, derived from the Great Seal of the United States, surrounded by borders of classical ornaments. Its design suggests it was intended for an official government building or residence, but its original purpose has not been discovered.


Cut-pile rectangular carpet with green ground featuring the obverse of the Great Seal of the United States at center, surrounded by a pieced border of classical design; the central portion of the carpet is made of six vertical strips and features a circular medallion with an eagle bearing a ribbon in his beak emblazoned "E. Pluribus Unum," a shield of seventeen stripes on his breast, an olive branch in his proper left talon, and seventeen arrows in his proper right talon, with scrolling clouds above, all on a white ground; the central reserve is framed by a series of borders: beading, acanthus leaves, egg-and-dart, a wide field with a chain of stylized flowers, husks, and leaves, egg-and-dart, and finally anthemion and honeysuckle; the green ground of the carpet is filled with rows of orange stars spaced regularly around the central medallion; the central portion of the carpet is framed by a border pieced together from four long strips on each side and four square pieces at each corner; each of the long strips features a white swan in a circular medallion with beaded border at their center, flanked by stylized scrolling floral borders within beaded reserves, and stylized butterflies enclosed in semicircular beaded reserves at each end, all framed with borders of beading and acanthus leaves; each square piece features a stylized floral medallion in a square reserve edged in beading, framed by outer borders of beading and acanthus leaves; backed with a linen backing secured at the edge with cotton twill tape.


c. 1802-1812



Wool, linen, cotton


Overall: 210 in. x 186 in. (533.4 cm x 472.44 cm)

4.7 m5.3 m1 cm

* Object size compared to a tennis ball

Credit Line

Gift of Mrs. Sarah Yeates McElwee Whelen,1897

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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