Brooch, c. 1775-1799
As arbiters of taste George Washington (1731-1799) and his wife, Martha Dandridge Washington (1731-1802) wore simple but elegant clothing and jewelry that maintained an elegant, understated appearance in keeping with the ideals of the early Republic. Martha and her daughter, Martha “Patsy” Custis (1756-1773), by her first marriage to Daniel Parke Custis (1711-1759) procured a number of pieces of jewelry from London jewelers through London agents. During the presidency, Martha purchased readily available jewelry that was imported or made by Philadelphia and New York jewelers. According to family tradition Martha Washington gave this brooch to her husband as a token of her affection. The pin was subsequently inherited by Martha’s granddaughter, Martha Parke Custis (1777-1854), who married Thomas Peter (1769-1834). She gave the pin to their son, George Washington Parke Custis Peter (1801-1877), and through him the pin passed to William Boyce Peter (1846-1907). On February 23, 1891 William B. Peters presented the pin to his home lodge, Patmos Lodge, No. 70 near Ellicott City, Maryland. For safe keeping the lodge decided to place the pin on special deposit at the Patapsco National Bank to be “kept in the steel vault.” However in 1897 it was decide that this memento would be better served as a striking memorial to ‘Brother Washington’ if it was placed in the Maryland Masonic Museum “for proper display.” The pin was subsequently presented to the museum as a formal gift in 1897.