The inscription engraved on one side reads: "The portion of wood inserted in the lid of this facsimile of the Sarcophagus, was cut from the inner shell which encloses the remains of Washington, by Wm. Strickland, of Philadelphia, Architect, and John Struthers, of Philadelphia, Mason and Sculptor, who sent it to me, together with a printed historical description and engraving of the Sarcophagus, etc. John Struthers was born at Hawthorns in the Parish of Irvine, in Ayshire, 22nd November, 1786, Jesse Hartley, Liverpool."
The other side reads: "This Sarcophagus containing the remains of George Washington, first President of the United States, was made and presented for the purpose by John Struthers, of Philadelphia this day of A.D. 1837."
The front end is engraved: "George Washington Born Feb. 22 1732 Died Decr. 14 1799," the border below engraved "An exact representation of the Silver Shield or escrutcheon which was attached to the leaden coffin and which is now deposited in the Marble Sarcophagus."
The other end engraved: "By the permission of Lawrence Lewis, Esq. This Sarcophagus of Washington was presented by John Struthers, of Philadelphia, Marble Mason."
In 1837 John Struthers, an established mason, was commissioned to carve the marble sarcophagus that would line George Washington's coffin. Upon completion of this project he sent a piece of wood from the coffin, as well as the historical prints of the sarcophagus, to Jesse Hartley. Hartley, the engineer responsible for the Liverpool docks, had financed Struthers' emigration to America and it was he who had the replica fashioned in silver.
Willian Strickland, a native of Philadelphia, was a noted engineer, engraver, and architect. Perhaps best known for his designs of such buildings as the United States Mint and the United States Bank, Strickland was also responsible for the design of the marble sarcophagus for Washington at Mount Vernon.