After studying George Washington inaugural buttons for years, I believe that past collectors and researchers have mis-identified New Nation Tribute buttons as George Washington inaugural buttons. Even though I do believe the same skilled engravers made both types of buttons, I believe their intent was to have a separate buttons that honored each historical event. The first being George Washington as our 1st elected President, and the second to celebrate the birth of our new federal government. I believe the celebratory business economy of the era would have taken the opportunity to profit from the positive sentiment of the people foreach type of button. So, a possible engraving commission was probably paid for a limited set of patterns were made to market along side of George Washington inaugural buttons. To put it mildly, I like to think of the 2 buttons as two birth certificates. One button for George Washington as our first President, and one button for our country which celebrates the establishment of a new Federal government.
New Nation Tribute buttons use a variation of the Great Seal of the United States. This motif includes an Eagle with Arrows, an Olive Branch or wheat Stalks, A Federal Shield, Morning Glories, Stars, and Swirling Clouds. This combination of depictions represents America and is symbolic of all it’s strong founding qualities. This button is a propaganda statement just like an American Flag Pin that is intended to imply by the wearer that “I am a Proud American.” This is unlike George Washington inaugural buttons which have symbols that pay direct tribute to George Washington as our countries father, and the nation’s First President. GWI buttons were worn to show support, respect, and love for George Washington accomplishments in the country’s freedom and as America’s 1st President. So, the intent of each button has it’s own tribute and meaning which is supported by the different symbols depicted, and catchphrases on the button.
As mentioned the library notes, my research concludes the only qualified skilled artisans of the era for these celebratory buttons were Master Artisans who shared a Sottish-Rite Masonic fellowship that gives tribute to Scottish Royal culture and ancient religion. These New Nation Tribute buttons would have been sold at the same time, or along side of George Washington inaugural buttons. Even though these buttons were pricey for the times, I firmly believe they were still(along with earlier Rattlesnake buttons) available to anyone of means throughout the 13 states, and not just reserved and purchased by the wealthy genteel class. For gilt or silvered high end buttons, a gentlemen would be able to obtain them though fancy clothier shops or through a catalog order in a men’s fashion magazine. The copper or brass buttons without a gold or silver finish would have been affordable to the general public, and sold through various outlets. In my opinion, I truly believe the common man during this era was so patriotic that he would have afforded himself at expense a copper or brass button just to be able to show his patriotism. A collector should consider and understand the Patriot’s social and economic air for their new found country. By 1789, there was an economic need for an established federal government that could benefit the people. I always like to think of the historical comments exampling how the average person who got paid with New York currency notes couldn’t journey to the neighboring states of Pennsylvania or New Jersey to spend his hard earned wages for common household goods. Examples like this gives us insights into the troubles of not having a Federal Government with a unified economy. Of course there was foreign troubles with naval trade of manufactured goods, but all could be fixed with the state unification under a Federal government; hence therefore a good reason to celebrate this accomplishment with a celebratory button!
The buttons that were once considered and listed by past historians and collectors as George Washington inaugurals would include: GWI 2, 15, 26, and 28. The undercurrent use of the Great Seal of the United States on New Nation Tribute buttons have an underlying theme of unification by the 13 states under a unanimously ratified Constitution. Secondly, using the insignia of the United States of America has the intent that America should be and will be recognized as unified Nation on the worlds stage for commerce.
Robert’s Alternate Theory of the Nature of Man
So, let me put a real spin on this button as i have come to know 18th century Freemasons, and their control of the business infrastructure in the United States during Post-Revolutionary War times. Let me keep it simple and call it, “The $Bottom Line$”… lol These 18th century Freemasons that controlled the trade guilds for engraved celebratory memorabilia saw the additional idea of having a New Nation Tribute button. This is one more thing they can make a profit with along side of George Washington Inaugural buttons. Since, there was an overwhelming sentiment for American patriotism it was a perfect idea. Because i can recite the many reasons a patriot would want a button, it makes it more desirable for a guild controlled profession to make one for honoring our country. 1) A New Nation Tribute button celebrates the country’s 1st birthday. 2) It celebrates that our New Federal Government which for the first time will start to operate under a state ratified Constitution instead of separate states operating under the post-Revolutionary War Articles Confederation. 3) The 1st time the Senate would convene as a unified body under a newly created federal government. 4) Other nations will have to deal with America as a single unified country instead of separate rich landowners of manufacturing products. There is a long list, but lets skip to my favorite: how about us entrepreneurs of patriotic celebratory memorabilia make different patriotic button that illustrates the Great Seal of the United States, so we can make money off the celebration of this event…lol!
Putting all that notion about man’s pursuit of (Greed) happiness to the side, these truly are Great buttons! I am grateful that Metal detector enthusiast have unearthed lost specimens. I believe New National Tribute buttons should warrant a “Greater Collector Value” due to to their scarcity and rarity in comparison to the more commonly found George Washington Inaugural Buttons. One could hypothesis that most people were buying GW’s to honor George Washington inaugurals which is probably the cause of their scarcity and notoriety. God Bless America, and may your children have the home and protection this country afforded you.