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To supplement their often bland military rations, officers of means invested in canteens: small, lidded cases divided into lined compartments harboring glass bottles filled with wine, liquor, and condiments. George Washington is believed to have owned the three canteens featured here. Heavily worn, they may have been acquired during his military service during the French and Indian War or the American Revolution. They were among the handful of original Washington objects left at Mount Vernon when the Association purchased the property in 1860.

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Geography Retailed - United StatesPossibly made - EnglandProbably made - United States
DimensionsOther (without lid): 12 in. x 16 1/2 in. x 15 3/4 in. (30.48 cm x 41.91 cm x 40.01 cm) Other (with lid): 12 1/2 in. x 16 1/2 in. x 15 3/4 in. (31.75 cm x 41.91 cm x 40.01 cm) Other (lid): 3 1/2 in. x 17 1/4 in. x 7 in. (8.89 cm x 43.82 cm x 17.78 cm) Other (wall fragment, original): 11 1/4 in. x 1 7/8 in. x 5/16 in. (28.58 cm x 4.78 cm x 0.79 cm) Other (wall fragment, reproduction): 11 1/4 in. x 5 7/16 in. x 3/8 in. (28.58 cm x 13.82 cm x 0.97 cm) Other (interior wall fragment, reproduction): 8 3/4 in. x 14 1/2 in. x 1 7/8 in. (22.23 cm x 36.91 cm x 4.78 cm)
Credit LineTransferred to the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association through the generosity of John Augustine Washington III, 1860
Object numberW-350/A
DescriptionCanteen with infrastructure of sawn and planed wood panels and leather-covered exterior, consisting of five constituent pieces: the main body, fragment of original round shouldered left hand side wall, reproduction round shouldered right hand side wall, and reproduction interior wall and lid. The main body is composed of the base, the rectangular front and rear walls, and the remaining round-shoulder side wall; all are joined with iron nails. The interior of the standing walls feature vertically planed channels that once supported a series of internal dividers: the interior of the front wall has three, while the rear wall and side wall have one channel apiece. The exterior of the front wall was once faced in fabric, but only fragments remain. Centered at the top is a forged D-ring and escutcheon, two bored holes flank either side. The exterior of the main body is covered in leather, all of the seams are reinforced with an additional leather strip. A continuous piece of leather covers the rear wall, base, and bottom of the pocket. The pocket front is a separate piece of leather sewn to the base and side wall edges; at its center is a reinforced vent; four punched holes flank either side and leather straps are haphazardly strung through the wall and the pocket holes drawing it closed. The leather exterior of the side wall is pieced to the body; a horizontally oriented leather handle is sewn and nailed to its face. The lid is made from two layers of leather: the top layer was originally part of the continuous piece of leather running along the rear and base of the canteen and served as the lid hinge, the sides of the lid are pieced to the top of the lid. The wooden fragment of the original left hand side wall constitutes one third of the original; its face features bored and sewn holes that once anchored a horizontal leather handle; the reproduction left hand side wall has a vertical channel planed into its face, three nail brads pass through the channel; the rectangular wooden reproduction interior wall has planed edges.

see also 69-12 Previous MVLA accession number
Mount Vernon's object research is ongoing and information about this object is subject to change. For information on image use and reproductions, click here.
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