1789 New Nation Tribute Button, TRB 26
GWI 26 THE LIBERTY CAP ON A POLE WITH THE INAUGURAL YEAR: This button was Hand Engraved on a plain thin colonial copper planchet. The Size for GWI 26 is 34mm, and has a R-6 Rating. This is a flat one-piece button with a loop shank. The button’s pattern depicts a two-dimensional design of a Liberty Cap on a Pole, with the inaugural year, “1789” below. The year is etched in wide Arabic Style Numbers. For added artistry, the engraver etched small squiggly lines around the outside of the Pole, around the perimeter of the Liberty Cap, and inside of the 1789 Year Date.
Since a second specimen was claimed to be found, I can only surmise two possibilities. Another was fashioned for a friend, or at one point a steel die hub was cut and a limited number of them produced. The Liberty Cap on a Pole was probably one of the most inspiring images during colonial and post-colonial era in America. My historical research indicates that the Sons of Liberty used this symbolism in the early 1770’s. In a state official government capacity, the design was used on the paper notes for the state of Georgia, and then was later adopted by the Pennsylvania Council of Safety in 1776. This symbol was used on their official wax seal for various board declarations and ratifications when members would meet. One theory is that this button was probably worn by one of the members on the Committee of Safety in Philadelphia.
~ Celebrating America as A New Nation ~
I believe that researchers and button collectors in the past have mistakenly attributed National Tribute buttons as a George Washington Inaugural Buttons that pays tribute to George Washington as being our 1st President. I believe this to be incorrect by my predecessors. It is my theory that GWI 26 was attributed to our New Nation celebrating the unification of the states under a new federal government. The button not only celebrates the country’s 1st birthday, but as a new nation that will start to operate under a state ratified Constitution instead of separate states operating under the post-Revolutionary War articles confederation. This will also be the 1st time the Senate convened as a unified body under a newly created federal government. There is nothing tributary toward President Washington, and the intent of the button’s depiction by using a form of the Great Seal of the United States should justify my conclusion alone. If one becomes a student of history such as myself, he will easily be able to identify other manufactured patriotic products of this time frame that use a form the Great Seal of the United States as a celebratory sales item that honor our country. I believe National Tribute buttons were sold along side of George Washington Inaugural Buttons, or sold within the same time frame. I do value National Tribute buttons just as high as GWI buttons, and attribute their rarity to a much higher degree because of their scarcity. -Robert J. Silverstein
*One of the two known buttons is currently in the Mint Collection, which resides in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. ~ In addition to the Cobb Specimen, Helen Richmond found one in Florida.-Robert J. Silverstein