Storeroom Stories: Washington Sash



When George Washington launched his grand Southern Tour in 1791, overwhelming enthusiasm and gratitude greeted him at every step. Charleston, of course, was no exception. Arriving that May and staying in what is now The Charleston Museum’s Heyward-Washington House, President Washington attended numerous balls and receptions in his honor during the weeklong visit. For these events, attendees dressed in their finest. Some local ladies, in fact, even made special sashes for the occasion.

Miss Harriott Pinckney, daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth (Motte) Pinckney and granddaughter of indigo-famous Eliza Lucas Pinckney, for example, wore (and likely made) this sash especially for these celebrations. Made from light blue silk taffeta and measuring 3 ¾” wide by 165 ½” long, a miniature portrait of George Washington is painted at the center and while a dove and an eagle with an American shield appear at opposite ends. One particular account of a May 6 reception held on May 6 makes note of these sashes.

The President attended a ball given by Governor (Charles) Pinckney at his home, where was gathered a “select company” of ladies and gentlemen. The ladies, sacrificing their elaborate floral headdresses and imposing feathers, wore handsome fillets or bandeaux upon which was drawn or painted Washington’s portrait, the national colors entwined.

In 1949, Thomas Pinckney’s great-great granddaughter, Sallie Morris Pinckney Burton, donated this remarkable piece to The Charleston Museum. At that time, Mrs. Burton was the wife of the museum’s director, E. Milby Burton.

About Storeroom Stories

Founded in 1773, The Charleston Museum is, in fact, America’s first. Needless to say, over the centuries the Museum has acquired many incredible artifacts. A myriad of items exemplifying the rich history of South Carolina, the Lowcountry, and Charleston itself are on display permanently. However, one must also wonder about the artifacts not typically displayed in our formal galleries. Furthermore, with such a magnificent, vast collection as well as an intelligent and passionate curatorial staff, The Charleston Museum has incredible resources. We would like to use these resources to share more with the public. Therefore, the Museum will now be offering a special monthly exhibit, titled Storeroom Stories, which highlights a specific and unique artifact, personally hand-picked by a curator to share with the public.

A “story” related to each item will be included along with its description, providing the viewer a unique and intimate perspective on each individual piece. This an incredible opportunity for the public to take a look into our collections as well as see some of the items that our curators are most excited about sharing with you! We invite you to keep up with Storeroom Stories via our website, blog, Facebook, or twitter account. Please come and take a peek into our storeroom, view some of the pieces our curators our most passionate about, and learn the story behind these incredibly historic items!