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The Inaugural Clothing Buttons of George Washington

by jimwarlick (11/12/07).
George Washington Inaugural clothing buttons
George Washington Inaugural clothing buttons

In the first inauguration of a freely chosen president of the United States in 1789, President-elect George Washington appeared in  New York “…dressed in deep brown, with metal buttons, with an eagle on them…”, according to William Maclay, a Pennsylvania Senator.   As would happen in decades to come, merchants saw a chance to sell souvenirs of the occasion and they would be clothing buttons similar to the ones worn by the president-elect.  Many versions were created.  Some carried Washington’s initials “GW”, others had slogans such as “Long Live the President”, or designs of eagles and stars.  One popular version was a link of thirteen chains representing the original thirteen states at the time.  The photo shows a few of the designs from a collection since sold at auction.  To find an authentic 1789 inaugural clothing button takes a very special knowledge of the many designs.  Visit for a quick course and a complete PDF format of the clothing buttons known to exist.   Be aware.  There are many reproductions being sold as authentic on public as well as private auctions and sales.  However, a true original could bring $2500 to $4500 at auction.  Some common ones are still available for several hundred dollars, though.

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