The Home of Washington; or, Mount Vernon and its Associations, Historical, Biographical, and Pictorial by Benson J. Lossing, 1870

Lossing, Benson. The Home of Washington; or Mount Vernon and its Associations, Historical, Biographical, and Pictorial. Hartford: A.S. Hale & Co., 1870. Early edition. Octavo, in original brown cloth with blind and gilt embossed boards. 

Presented is an early edition printing of Benson Lossing’s The Home of Washington; or, Mount Vernon and its Associations, Historical, Biographical, and Pictorial. This book was published by subscription only, with this volume printed in Hartford, Connecticut, by A.S. Hale & Co., in 1870. The book is presented in its original cloth bindings with intricate gilt and blind stamps to boards and spine. 

The Home of Washington covers everything from George Washington’s boyhood at Mount Vernon, to the design of the grounds and architecture of the house, going so far as to cover the book titles in Washington's library. It is richly illustrated by Lossing, who was both an author and a profound illustrator. More than 150 black and white illustrations are found throughout the book, with several full-page engravings before the title page by Lossing & Barrit, including a handsome portrait of George Washington and the main house at Mount Vernon. 

In 1859, the Mount Vernon estate passed from the possession of George Washington’s family to the Mount Vernon Ladies Association. Lossing describes Mount Vernon as he found it during a visit in October 1858, "the last of my several pilgrimages to the home and tomb of Washington,” as well as during previous trips. His intent was to see, document and describe Mount Vernon “as it is, before the gentle hands of our patriotic countrywomen, now extended to arrest the ravages of decay, shall transform the objects upon which Washington's eyes once looked with delight from melancholy vestiges of former symmetry and beauty to their original shape and brightness..." Published in 1870, the proceeds from the original sale of this edition went to support the operation of Mount Vernon. 

In the book’s preface, Losing writes, “the materials, of which this volume is composed, were collected by the writer years ago, during visits to Mount Vernon, and also Arlington House, the residence of the family of George Washington Parke Custis, the adopted son of Washington. Careful search was made elsewhere for mementoes of the domestic life of Washington and of his Home on the banks of the Potomac River; and faithful drawings of objects and transcriptions of documents were made, whenever found. … Delineations and descriptions of these, and facts concerning Mount Vernon, of every kind, have been arranged in proper order in the following pages, and so present quite a complete picture of the private and domestic life of the Father of his Country; for that life, from his earliest childhood, was associated with Mount Vernon.”

George Washington spent much of his childhood visiting his half brother Lawrence Washington at Mount Vernon, learning farming and how to be a cultured member of society. Washington didn’t make Mount Vernon his home until 1759, after he married Martha Dandridge Custis, the future first “First Lady” of the United States. At the time, Lawrences’s widow, Ann Fairfax Washington, still owned Mount Vernon, so George Washington leased the estate from her until he inherited it in 1761. Over the next four decades, Washington personally supervised each renovation; advising on design, construction and decoration, even as he served in the Revolutionary War and as president of the United States.

Benson John Lossing (1813-1891) was born in Dutchess County, New York and became a prominent engraver, illustrator, and historian. He was a part owner and editor of the Poughkeepsie Telegraph, then moved to New York City where he became editor and illustrator for J.S. Rothchild's weekly Family Magazine. He authored over 40 books, including a useful Field-Book of the War of 1812, an exhaustively thorough Pictorial Field-Book of the Revolution, and three volumes on the history of the Civil War, to which Mathew Brady contributed photographs. He was also a charter trustee of Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY from 1861 until his death in 1891.

CONDITION: 

Good condition overall, given age and past use. Octavo.  Original brown cloth binding, with decorative blind and gilt embossed boards and spine. Worn boards, as expected with age and past use. 150 illustrations, plus 2 full page engravings before title page. Scattered stains and foxing to interior pages. Book has had minor cleaning and conservation, to stabilize the spine. Presented with a new, custom cloth slipcase. Book Dimensions (with slipcase): 9" H x 6 5/8" W x 2 1/8" D.




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