When the Mount Vernon Ladies Association purchased the estate in the 19th century, the mansion was nearly empty with only a dozen items acquired during the purchase.

In the spring of 1858, John Augustine Washington III agreed to sell the Mansion and 200 acres of adjoining land to the Mount Vernon Ladies Association for $200,000. In 1860, John and his family relinquished the Mansion keys to Ann Pamela Cunningham.

Three iconic objects were part of this original acquisition:

The Key to the Bastille

The Key to the Bastille was presented as a gift to General Washington by the Marquis de Lafayette. Washington prominently displayed the key as a "token of victory by Liberty over Despotism" in the Central Passage.

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Terrestrial Floor Globe

Four months after taking office, President Washington directed his London agents, "to send me ... a terrestrial globe of the largest dimensions and of the most accurate and approved kind now in use." After the presidency, Washington placed it in his Study at Mount Vernon.

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Houdon Bust

Considered to be the most accurate likeness of George Washington, the original terra-cotta bust was made by the French sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon at Mount Vernon in 1785 and can be seen today in the Museum.

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