Souvenir Nation

George Washington's Mount Vernon

A souvenir is most memorable when it has a connection to an actual person, place, or event. The history of George Washington’s Mount Vernon is an example of this. Even before the estate was open to the public, visitors pried fragments from Washington’s home and grounds. Over time the cutting of souvenirs proved to be unsustainable, and the production of inexpensive commemorative wares made especially for the tourist trade took the place of this practice. Estate-made souvenirs were often made from vines, flowers, and trees on the grounds.

The father of his country, it turns out, was also the father of his country’s souvenirs.

Inspired by patriotic interest in the construction of the Washington Monument, Englishman James Crutchett produced souvenir George Washington keepsakes in his “Mount Vernon Factory.” In 1852 Crutchett contracted with John Augustine Washington to harvest wood from Mount Vernon for the purpose of making souvenirs. Crutchett’s souvenirs came with a certificate of authenticity issued under the authority of Crutchett; the Mayor of Washington, D.C.; and John Augustine Washington. 

Wooden George Washington plaque from James Crutchett’s Mount Vernon Factory
Washington, D.C., 1852

Purchase, 2010

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