George Washington Commemorative Bandana, ca. 1799

Value (2008) | $6,500 Auction$7,000 Auction

It's a handkerchief that was printed when George Washington died. It has the eulogies of the soldiers, sailors, citizens, "all the tears of America." It was in my husband's family. It was sent to his parents by a great-aunt in California. When she died, all of her worldly possessions came to them. And it was folded up in a little tin box, and so for our Christmas present, his parents had it framed for us and we've had it about 50 years.

This is a commemorative bandana from Washington's death in 1799. It is copperplate printed. The copperplate printing technology was most evolved in England, so this was probably printed in England on Indian-made cotton, and it was made as a simple printed bandana. You can't see the edges from here, but there's sort of a rickrack border around this bandana. And what's really extraordinary about it is the depth of feeling that you get when you read how people mourned the passing of George Washington and how beloved he was in this country. I mean, the title of it is "The Tears of America." Right here it says, "Why doth America weep? "Why are her courts and her churches covered with funereal black? "Why are her sons clad in sable and appointed to a long mourning? "Our loss is great. Washington is gone." And then it tells you specifically, senators, citizens, soldiers, sailors... about their feelings for Washington. And the centerpiece here is Columbia at Washington's tomb. And it's a very typical, late-18th-century mourning scene, and it's one of the rarest of the commemorative bandanas that are American. I know of only one other, and it's in the D.A.R. Museum in Washington.

Oh, is it?

This particular one. If this were to come up at auction, because of its rarity and extraordinary collectibility, it would sell for between $6,500 and $7,000 at auction.

Wow... wow.

I expect that it would at least go for that much.

Oh, that's wonderful, that is wonderful.

Appraisal Details

Augusta Auction Co.
Bellows Falls, VT
Appraised value (2008)
$6,500 Auction$7,000 Auction
Chattanooga, TN (July 19, 2008)

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