A little more than a year ago we published a blog post highlighting a horse’s mane comb excavated years ago at George Washington’s Boyhood Home at Ferry Farm. Though the rusty iron mane comb was incomplete, a lone, decorative “G” located along the top of the comb hinted at a longer name we hoped might be “G.[eorge] Washington.”
Fortunately, two outside sources soon came to our attention that confirmed our suspicions. A reader of the blog sent a note disclosing his family has a mane comb very similar to ours. This comb is more complete than ours but more importantly, it has “G.Washing” inset above the teeth!
A second source turned up in an online auction in which a horse mane comb was listed for sale with other early 19th century items. This comb is a wonderfully complete specimen with “G. WASHINGTON” clearly inset with hollow cut lettering in the upper section of the comb above the teeth.
Our blog reader was not sure how old his mane comb was, and the auction listed theirs as “Federal Period” (early 19th century). All three examples have similar rope molded decoration along the upper edge of the comb and on the lettering, and only our comb has a slightly different spacing in front of the first letter. Considering everything, we think that’s enough proof! “G.WASHINGTON” it is!
Washington memorabilia is ubiquitous, commemorating everything including his birth, his death, and his Revolutionary War and Presidential experiences. Statues, medals, buttons, paintings, ribbons, and hundreds of other products have been made to honor our first president over the last 220 years since his death in 1799. It makes sense that these mane combs are part of that heritage, made as homage to his memory. Why there aren’t more of them out there, I don’t know. But I love the fact that one of these combs made its way back to the farm on the Rappahannock River where George grew up. Ferry Farm is where he spent his formative years learning not only how to ride his horses, but also developing those leadership skills he would need to one day lead the Continental Army and eventually the United States of America.
Co-Field Director, Archaeology Lab Assistant