Skinner Auctions
Skinner AuctionsBoston MA
March 1, 2015 10:00 AMCalender

George Washington Wine Bottle

Sell one like this
Auction: American Furniture & Decorative Arts - 2786BLocation: BostonDate / Time: March 01, 2015 10:00AM


George Washington Wine Bottle, England or America, c. 1792, the blown quart-sized olive green bottle of typical late 18th century form, with down-tooled lip and string rim with rounded shoulder, rounded heel and dome-shaped pushup with sand pontil, bottle is corked and sealed with wax (possibly beeswax) bearing the applied paper label inscribed "Washington Wine/Imported in 1792/Rebottled in/1840," contents of bottle evaporated leaving visible sediment inside, bottle ht. 9 1/8, dia. 3 7/8 in.

Provenance: Descended in the family of Major Abraham Kirkpatrick (1749-1817). Kirkpatrick's wife, Mary Ann Oldham, was a sister of Winifred Oldham, the wife of General John Neville. Mary Ann and Winifred Oldham were second cousins to George Washington and General Neville was a close personal friend of Washington. In 1794 during the Whiskey Rebellion there was an incident where General Neville was cornered in his home by 600 rebels. Major Kirkpatrick came to his rescue saving Neville. Kirkpatrick was captured, but later escaped. It is believed, because of the close personal associations with George Washington, that Washington gave a bottle or bottles of wine or spirits to Major Kirkpatrick for his bravery during this incident. The bottle and its contents were preserved by the Kirkpatrick family after Abraham's death in 1817. In 1840, probably due to the cork needing changing, it was "rebottled." Rather than actually putting the contents into a different bottle, rebottling often referred to simply resealing the contents with a new cork. It is believed that the inscribed paper label was applied to the bottle at that time.

Note: In 2000 the consignor communicated with curatorial staff at George Washington's Mount Vernon who offered the following insight:
"With respect to the glass bottle in your collection with label reading "Washington Wine Imported 1792 Rebottled 1840," I can offer few a insights. First of all, we know from George Washington's correspondence and invoices that he imported a number of different wines including the following: Best, Old, Burgundy, Canary, Chaly Beale, Claret, Lisbon, Madera, Old, Port, Red, Rhenish, Sherry, Champagne. Yours is the first bottle we have seen which suggest that examples of this wine were rebottled in the 19th century following Washington's death. We have, however, had other consumable goods come to our attention with similar labels, including whiskey and preserves. It may very well be, therefore, that your artifact represents a re-bottling of an eighteenth century wine enjoyed at Mt. Vernon."

In addition to wines of various types being brought to Mount Vernon during Washington's lifetime, George Washington's ledger book for 1792 includes references to nearly 150 gallons of rum being purchased for his estate in May and September as well as multiple orders for corks presumably for bottling the rum.
Estimate $10,000-15,000

Bottle has a single half-inch wide bubble chip on back, few very light scratches and light wear on base; label has small losses upper left edge and lower left corner.

The absence of a condition statement does not imply that the lot is in perfect condition or completely free from wear and tear, imperfections or the effects of aging. Condition requests can be obtained via email (lot inquiry button) or by telephone to the appropriate gallery location (Boston/617.350.5400 or Marlborough/508.970.3000). Any condition statement given, as a courtesy to a client, is only an opinion and should not be treated as a statement of fact. Skinner Inc. shall have no responsibility for any error or omission.


George Washington, Abraham Kirkpatrick, Major, John Neville, United Kingdom, Winifred Oldham, Mary Ann Oldham, Mount Vernon, Lisbon, Mt. Vernon, wide bubble chip, half-inch wide bubble chip