L2022.1027.006.001 Button, overall
  • L2022.1027.006.001 Button, overall
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Button (Inaugural button)

  • Category:

    Metals

  • Place of Origin:

    New England or Mid-Atlantic, United States, North America

  • Date:

    1789-1797

  • Materials:

    Brass; Copper alloy

  • Techniques:

    Stamped

  • Museum Object Number:

    2022.0011.001


  • Complete Details



Object Number

2022.0011.001

Object Name

Button (Inaugural button)

Category

Metals

Credit Line/Donor

Gift of Judith C. & John A. Herdeg

Place of Origin

New England or Mid-Atlantic, United States, North America

Date

1789-1797

Mark or Signature or Inscription or Label

1. Inscription; Obverse; "LONG . LIVE . THE . PRESIDENT" encircling border, stamped
2. Inscription; Obverse, center; "GW" in dotted script

Subjects

President; George Washington; Military

Materials

Brass; Copper alloy

Techniques

Stamped

Dimensions (inches)

Dimensions (centimeters)

Object Description

Web - 06/21/2022

Although often called an “inaugural” button, this patriotic coat or vest button was not worn by President Washington nor by anyone attending that momentous occasion in New York City where Robert Livingston first proclaimed, “Long Live George Washington, President of the United States” in April 1789. Such brass buttons were stamped up in multiples by enterprising hardware manufacturers in several cities and enjoyed popularity throughout both of George Washington’s presidential terms. Of the dozens of “GW” or presidential-themed designs from the late 1700s, this balanced and proportionate arrangement with dotted script initials is particularly elegant.

It is rare to find a surviving group of buttons with the same history of ownership. This is one of a set of five once owned by Joel Crosby (1763-1833) who was born in Billerica, near Lexington, Massachusestts. The advent of the American Revolutionary War so close to home must have compelled the 13- or 14-year-old Crosby to enlist as a private in December 1776 with John Minott’s company through at least March 1777. His name appears on payroll lists for the entire year of 1780. From 1781 to 1782 Crosby is recorded as directly accompanying George Washington by serving in the General’s Guard. This was the Commander-in-Chief’s Guard (Garde de Corps or Life Guards); formally disbanded in 1783. As a seasoned veteran yet only 20 years of age, Crosby returned to Massachusetts, married Hannah Blanchard, and eventually acquired and operated the White Lamb Tavern in Boston. The Crosbys also established a home in Leominster where Joel Crosby served as a state representative in 1814, 1819, and 1826. Crosby, like other veterans, would have acquired a set of buttons several years after his military service ended. The buttons were made after 1789, thus they likely were worn for commemorations of independence or in 1792-93 to endorse President Washington’s second term.