• Manuscript Letters Offer Insight In Design And Creation Of George Washington's Sarcophagus

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    Offering a fascinating record of George Washington’s sarcophagus and the marble mason and engraver who created it, JOHN STRUTHERS (1786-1851).  The record is contained in several letters, copied in another hand, of STRUTHERS recollection of his work. Written on conjoined sheets – 4 pp, 8 x 10 and dated Dec. 27th, 1841, and May 19th, 1842, Philadelphia--, Struthers’ account goes into detail about how he came to offer his work. Specifics of the various elements are also included.

    Referencing the sarcophagus, Struthers writes to Jesse Hartley, “...In answer to your request in reference to the application to me to make a sarcophagus for Washington...Dr. Coxe of this city sent a note to me to know what would be the cost of a marble coffin, made in slabs or a plane solid marble box to contain a coffin.  A few days after he called at the yard and asked my son for the estimate. He told him that he would rather not make a coffin; he then mentioned for whom it was intended. My son told me when I came home and immediately I wrote him requesting permission to make such a one at my own cost, which would be suitable for the Father of his country. I was very earnest in my request and forwarded my letter to...the surviving executor...”

    In another portion of the document, Jesse Hartley goes into detail about the work on the fourth page.  “The Box to be engraved in the following manner. On the Right side the inscription...On the Head end, the Escutcheon...On the foot end the inscription...On the left side The portion of wood inserted in the lid of this facsimile of the Sarcophagus was cut from the inner shell which enclose the remains of Washington by Wm Strickland, of Philadelphia, Architect, and John Struthers of Philadelphia, Mason and Sculptor, who sent it to me together with a printed historical description and engraving of the Sarcophagus...(signed) Jesse Hartley, Liverpool.”

    The document also includes biographical information about Struthers, dated December 27th, 1841. “...My children have asked of me for some time...for...a biography of my life which they may preserve.” He then proceeds to write of his birth, where he lived and worked and how he came to Philadelphia and did important masonry and engraving for Congress. [I] arrived in Philadelphia, 30th August [1817], got employment at Messrs. Sraquairs. A short time after I contracted with them to execute the door piece for Congress Hall Washington...I first became acquainted with our friend Mr. Strickland and since then I have been superintendent of most of our Public Buildings...”

    Folds, light soiling. Two small edge tears repaired with archival tape.  Very well written in the same hand and easy to read. A wonderful example of George Washington history and the respect for him as the Father of our country.

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