[WASHINGTON, George]. Morocco-bound pocket notebook originally owned by George Washington, covers gilt-stamped with a version of the U.S. Great Seal, back flyleaf with the ink signature of "Bushrod [Corbin] Washington, Blackburn Rippon Lodge," the front endpage with his explanatory note: "This was a pocket almanac[c] and once belonged to General G Washington of Mount Vernon," and a 1809 inscription by Bushrod Corbin Washington's future wife Anna Maria Thomasina Blackburn (1790-1833), dated "Rippon Lodge, 21st Octr. 1809." (Bushrod Corbin Washington and Anna Maria Thomasina Blackburn were married about 1810). 17 pages in the book contain Psalms, passages of scripture and devotional passages from authors (including William Cowper, Isaac Taylor and others) by Bushrod Corbin Washington (1790-1851), son of Washington's nephew Corbin Washington (1764-1799). Some entries dated, these ranging from 1 January 1827 to 16/17 July 1828.
36 leaves (4¾ x 2 5/8 in.) of which 27 are blank, wove paper, stitched in a single gathering. (Minor stains). BOUND FOR GEORGE WASHINGTON, WITH THE PRESIDENTIAL CREST ON BOTH COVERS. Late eighteenth-century straight-grained red morocco gilt over flexible paper boards, both covers with central gilt-stamped oval containing a version of the U.S. Great Seal: an American bald eagle facing to the right, its wings uplifted, a shield on his breast with stripes and bar, facing left, his left talon gripping a bundle of arrows, his right the olive branch of peace (but without the scroll with "E pluribus unum" legend), the crest encircled by a double ring of small gilt dots, covers with borders gilt with a scrolling floral roll, marbled endleaves. Rubbed, the crest on the back cover tooled on an oval patch of morocco (evidently to correct an upside-down impression of the eagle stamp), old stain to upper cover.
The version of the heraldic device used here derives from the design of the obverse of the Presidential Seal which in turn derives from the Great Seal of the United States as originally drawn by Secretary of Congress Charles Thomson and authorized by Congress in June 1792. In this version, perhaps due to the small size of the emblem, the "E pluribus unum" motto and the crown of 13 stars are omitted. Until 1945, the Great and the Presidential Seals were distinguished by the fact that the eagle on the Presidential Seal faced to the left, towards the bundle of arrows--as in the present example--while in the Great Seal the eagle faced right, towards the olive branch. President Truman, in 1945, officially altered the Presidential Seal so that the eagle faces left on both seals.
It is plausible that George Washington, who used a series of small notebooks at different times and for different purposes, may have acquired the present neatly bound pocket notebook late in his life, and died before he had an opportunity to use it. Afterwards, the notebook apparently remained in the family, but was passed--sometime before 1809--to Washington's grand-nephew Bushrod Corbin Washington, son of Washington's nephew Corbin Washington (1764-1799) and grandson of the President's brother John Augustine Washington (1736-1787).