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Celebrate Washington’s Birthday
With A Collection

Almost forgotten in the holiday observances of the United States is that or almost 200 years, February 22 was celebrated as the birthday of George Washington. Today, Washington’s birthday, along with that of Abraham Lincoln on February 12 and all th other Presidents, have been condensed into a single holiday called “President’s Day.” Collectors, however, can still continue to accumulate and enjoy the items from the past that were made to celebrate “George’s Day.”

George Washington died in 1799. during the next century, numerous mementoes of Washington were made. Some of the earliest were memorial portraits created in either needlework or painting. The portraits usually depicted a tomb with mourners, a weeping willow tree, a depiction of the goddess Liberty and often a view of Mount Vernon. Many of these representations were made by young women as gifts to be given on Washington's birthday.

Throughout the 19th century, Washington’s likeness could be found on such things as a silk umbrella with his likeness on the handle, fabric handkerchiefs, sterling silver spoons with busts of his head, pressed glass bread plates and postcards. These commemorative pieces really proliferated at the 1876 Centennial.

Currier and Ives produced several prints, including “General George Washington” and “The Death of Washington” during the second half of the century.

The 100th anniversary of Washington’s inauguration as President, brought on a new wave of Washington collectibles. One example was a cast iron hatchet that had is head engraved in the blade and an eagle perched on the handle.

By the early 20th century, items for decoration at home on Washingon’s birthday were appearing, many of them utilizing the legend of Washington refusing to cut down a cherry tree. Among these were candy containers, often taking the shape of hatchets, stumps with attached cherries, busts of Washington and Washington on a horse. There were cookie cutters shaped like hatchets, and ice cream molds.

For permanent use in the home, there were such large items as cat iron andirons, supporting a figure of Washington over a foot in height; cast iron doorstops, bookends, cast iron banks and trivets.

In 1932, the 200th anniversary of Washington's birth, another batch of memorabilia hit the market. Pins, badges and buttons were available for every patriotic American to wear. Frosted glass plates, china plates with transfer prints and glass flasks all contained his likeness.

Further items appeared at the nation’s Bicentennial in 1976, and will undoubtedly continue to appear at regular intervals in the future.

The biggest challenge for a collector of George Washington memorabilia is deciding how to limit the collection, with so much material from which to choose.

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Onion Pattern Made By Many Companies

The so-called “Onion” china pattern has been a favorite with homemakers for over two centuries.

It was first produced in Germany, by Meissen, but neighboring countries quickly “borrowed” it. Royal Copenhagen, in Denmark, has produced immense quantities of its version of the pattern and Villeroy-Boch made its version for export to the United States in the early 1900s. The products of all these factories are excellent and well worth collecting.

In addition to the dinnerware services, there were also quite a few kitchen utensils made in the Onion pattern. For baking, there was an excellent rolling pin with a matching pie crimper, a flour sifter, and measuring cups.

There were canister sets with flour scoops to match, and also flour containers which could be hung, with hinged lids.

Rounded bread boards and rectangular cheese boards, oil jugs, cottage cheese funnels, soup ladles, tea strainers, salt boxes, knives, colanders - an amazing variety of utensils was made with this china pattern. Most of those pieces that needed handles utilized wooden handles, with the china part as the operative portion.

The common color of the Onion pattern is blue, although some companies occasionally made it in other colors, such as pink.

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Linoleum Popular For Over 100 Years

Linoleum was patented in England in 1863 and the first manufacturing company for the product was begun there in the following year. It quickly became the favored floor covering, replacing the oil cloths or rugs which had previously covered the floors in most homes.

It did not decrease in popularity until the 1960s, when other types of smooth floor covering were developed.

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