Label

This linen damask napkin is but one of the large quantity that were once used by guests at presidential dinners in New York and Philadelphia and private entertainments at Mount Vernon with the retired president. The laundry mark at the corner - "1/ GW/ 48" - indicates that it was among a set of forty-eight owned by George Washington. Enslaved laundresses at Mount Vernon washed, bleached, and pressed linens such as this to maintain the items’ cleanliness and luxuriant lustre.

Description

Five-end satin damask linen napkin; a central rectangular reserve features meandering vines of flowers running across the reserve on the diagonal; the reserve is framed with a border of ovals entwined with a beaded chain interrupted by honeysuckle blooms at regular intervals; this in turn is surrounded by a wide band which features loose bouquets of flowers tied together with a ribbon and bow at each corner and meandering floral vines along each side; this is framed by a border of ovals entwined with a beaded chain interrupted by acanthus leaves at regular intervals, and finally a three-row checkered border along the outer edge of the napkin; each short end of the napkin is finished in a .13" -.19" rolled hem.

Date

1790-1800


Geography


Material/Technique

Linen


Dimensions

Overall: 40 1/2 in. x 30 7/8 in. (102.87 cm x 78.44 cm)


Credit Line

Gift of Mrs. M. Lee Shaffer Jr. and Charles Conrad Krumbhaar Jr., 1955


Marks

Marked in cross-stitch in blue linen thread near the top center of one of the short sides: "1/ G * W/ 48".


Object Number

W-655/C


Colors (Beta)


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