I am happy to introduce this Lost George Washington Inaugural Button, and Proudly name this find:
The Federal Eagle with Scottish Jewel Legend Indentees
GWI 24-A THE FEDERAL EAGLE WITH SCOTTISH JEWEL LEGEND INDENTEES: I believe this unique button was engraved by Philadelphia Artisan John Vallance (1770-1823). The original steel die or a prototype proof could have been worked on during his long boat trip to England from America. The button does reflect the maker marks of Master Artisan Robert Scot and two other Philadelphia Artisans James Trenchard, and Samuel Allardice. What is unclear to me is the intended purpose because of the strong Scottish insignia. Was it intended for a specific Jacobite Masonic lodge, or was it simply intended to be produced in England for the American market? One can even speculate that it was fashioned for Washington supporters in England. I have noted in my research that other lodges used sub-variants of certain inaugural buttons. Meaning select buttons were made for a specific purpose. The only factual conclusion I can draw is that the button was most likely started before John Vallance left for England since there is multiple Artisan signatures. Both known specimens demonstrate the technique of hand-chasing after the button was fashioned.
With my study in all types of inaugural buttons, I can firmly say that this button shows Scottish Royal Culture symbols which is in allusion of America’s new Federal insignias (That these Artisans also created). As with all George Washington inaugural buttons this button has “layers of allusions” which reference religion, American, and Scottish Royal Culture symbols. I will try to break down this mosaic puzzle and all it’s possible reflections for both an American and Scottish Freemason aspect.
The metal planchet is brass, and has a gilt finish. The size is 34.74mm, and has a R-7 rarity rating. This is a one-piece button with a soldered on loop shank for attachment. The button’s pattern depicts a U.S. Federal Wing Spread Eagle facing right. The Eagle is proudly splaying it’s wings under a Diamond Shape Heralding Estoile Type-Star. This gives the button it’s Christian religious heralding authority as a nation under God. The Federal Spread Wing Eagle was borrowed from the Great Seal of the United which is the chosen symbol to represent the United States in an official capacity on all official congressionally approved U.S. related documents. On all inaugural buttons the Eagle represents the Majestic Strength of America’s readiness for the challenges it will face as a new nation. For Scottish-Rite Jacobites it is seen as a Phoenix and symbolizes the re-birth of their New Republic (with separation of church and state). Clutched tightly in the Eagle’s left talon is a small Bundle of Three Arrows which represent our country’s readiness for war. This also represents the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Branches of the U.S. federal government. For Scottish-Rite Jacobites it represents the Royal Company of Archers who were the Lifeguards of the King. Also, a representation of the King of Scotland, England, and Ireland. Clutched in the Eagle’s right talon is a short stem Olive Branch with Five Petals. This is the ancient Roman symbol for the gesture of Peace and Goodwill. America chose this on their Great Seal to reflect the country’s sentiment after the Revolutionary War. As all 1789, GW & New Nation Tribute buttons the Eagle’s head is turned wisely toward the olive branch. I believe this sentiment for peace is a shared allusion with both Americans and Scottish Rite Jacobites who struggled since 1698, for their New Republic (Political & Religious Freedom). Blazoned across the Eagle’s chest is a Spade Shape Federal Shield with 33 Diamond Shape Perimeter Indentees. This would only have a Scottish-Rite representation to it’s masonic degrees of knowledge. The Federal (Escutcheon Shield) depicts 7 horizontal stipples in the top portion, and 13 vertical stripes in the lower portion. This in my opinion is one of the best multi-layered allusions. The stipples and stripes should be taken together with the eagle as a whole to represent America will not need any other supporters and rely on it’s own virtue. Then the 7 horizontal stipples (dots) across the top of the shield represent the countries from which the the States have been peopled by ( England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Germany, Canada, and Holland). The 13 vertical stripes in the lower portion of the shield represents the 13 states that have become unified as one. This also reflects the support for the Commander and Chief (President) who unites the whole country and represents Congress. Circling around the inner perimeter is an incuse ring of very detailed short lines. I would consider this an Artisans personal tribute to decorative detail. Circling around the legend is the unique tribute to the Regnal Crown Jewels of Scotland. Each jewel is separated by set of twenty “5” finely etched decorative lines. This is a Scottish-Rite Jacobite Tribute that is directed toward the Bonnie Prince Charlie, and his 5 Petal White Rose of war he picked and put into his cockade before battle.
Robert’s Extra Collector’s Notes:
One theory on the Estoile’s Deep Impression is that this could have possibly have been fitted for a jewel, such as a diamond. Some kind of clear adhesive could have possibly been used. Dale doesn’t believe it was cut-in for a Jewel. He believes the deep impression, and cross hatch was just added for a glimmering-bling effect to play off a room’s candle or possibly the sun’s light. Either of these two theory is acceptable in my opinion. I do agree that these elaborate heavily Gilded design cuts were done to give these special large inaugural buttons that extra Special Sparkle in the Sunlight; and also offer the wearer an extravagant fashionable political statement to his wardrobe in attendance of a political function or social grand ball.
With this new addition, there will be three known GW buttons that are made to Sparkle in the Light, GWI-7B, GWI-21, and the newest re-discovered member to the GW button family GWI 24-A!
This is 1 of 2 known George Washington Inaugural Button to be Dug (in England) outside of the United States!
GWI 24-A THE FEDERAL EAGLE WITH SCOTTISH JEWEL LEGEND INDENTEES
Color: An Emerald Green With Gold Pattern Highlights.
Metal: Flat, 1-Piece, Hand Engraved Design, Gilt Brass.
Size: 34.75mm. Inaugural Size.
Rarity: R-7 (1 of 2 Known)
Variety Type: 20 Jewel Shape Legend Indentees, 20 Sets of 5 Etched Lines.
Present Condition: An Excavated Specimen, Strong Planchet Condition, An Exceptional Impression Remains.
Obverse Button Analysis: Along with the customs ordered GWI 25, Isabela’s War Eagle this button is the most important and rarest inaugural button to exist !
Reverse Button Analysis: This is a one-piece button with a soldered on loop shank.
Library Records Has Limited Information GWI 24 A-1:
History: Yes Recorded Sales Price: Yes
Current Button Owner and Location: ~ New York ~
Dug around Hampton in Norfolk County England.
RJ Silverstein’s Isabela Collection.~
The following makers marks found are again, consistant with all the marks found on all of the GW buttons studied. We find Trenchards letter “J” in the eye ball of the bird. Several makers marks “V” are found and one VERY unique aspect is that the birds leg joint bend is made to be a chevron “V” as seen on original surviving US Great Seal, the handful. Where this evidence found on this button is “Exceptionally Valuable” as hard evidence that Scot and his associates where behind the making of all of the Washington buttons and these rare eagle buttons. This button has three, clearly seen letter “A’s” that would represent Samuel Allardice who’s marks are found on the Great Seals. Sometimes his marks are clearly seen as “SA” for his name. Scot’s “S” mark is found on an angle, often Scot’s “S” marks are seen as a near number 8 in design. Based on the surviving proposed Great Seal design that has the Fire Pilar and the Jacobite symbolism. The Letter “S/8” can signify te exiled King, James Francis Edward Stuart VIII. Paintings and other engravings of the king by Scot’s teacher, show these “S/8” symbols in his surviving works.