CAG Certifies Memorabilia with Ties to Two Historic 'First' Presidents

Posted on 9/26/2022

Each of the relics, which include wood from a house, a piece of cloak and leather from a car interior, were expertly authenticated and encapsulated to ensure their long-term preservation.

While each President who has served as Commander in Chief of the United States can be considered a prominent historical figure, there are some who stand out. George Washington, who served as the first president, is certainly among them. From the modern era, Barack Obama also occupies a significant place in history, as the first African American president.

Collectibles Authentication Guaranty® (CAG®) is honored to have certified artifacts with ties to Washington and Obama. Each of the relics, which include wood from a house, a piece of a cloak and leather from an automobile interior, were expertly authenticated and encapsulated to ensure their long-term preservation.

Wood fragment preserved from Germantown home that housed Washington and family

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The White House is certainly the most well-known US presidential residence, but it is not the oldest. That honor goes to a building known as the Germantown White House, which housed President George Washington on a number of occasions before the White House in Washington, DC, was built.

CAG authenticated and encapsulated a fragment of wood from this famous Germantown home, also known as the Deshler-Morris House, which continues to stand at 5442 Germantown Avenue in Germantown, Pennsylvania. Washington’s official home was the presidential mansion in Philadelphia, but history says that he took up residence in the Germantown White House on two occasions. The first time was to escape the yellow fever epidemic that ravaged Philadelphia in 1793. The second was during a vacation that he took in 1794 with his wife and family.

During the American Revolutionary War, British General William Howe stayed in the Deshler-Morris House for a short period while commanding the British troops in Germantown. Howe, who served as Commander in Chief of the British land forces during the Revolutionary War, was Washington’s primary rival during the war.

Swatch of velvet from cloak worn by President George Washington

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CAG also authenticated and encapsulated a fragment of material from a cloak that belonged to George Washington. The fragment, which is burgundy colored velvet, was encapsulated with a special label that includes an image from the famous Washington portrait painted by Gilbert Stuart. After certification by CAG, a piece like the one above went onto sell for an impressive $3,500 — more than three times its auction estimate of $900 to $1,000.

Velvet would have been among the more expensive materials available to those in the American colonies. Prior to the revolutionary movement, such textiles were obtained from Great Britain. Once the movement was underway, however, Washington and other supporters of the revolution spurned British textiles in favor of homespuns, which was the name used for materials produced in the colonies. During and after the War for Independence, those loyal to the new United States would have obtained expensive materials like velvet primarily from France.

Swatch of leather from car owned by President Barack Obama

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President Barack Obama made special mention of his 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited during a speech he gave in 2012 at Detroit’s Jefferson North Assembly Plant, saying it was the first new car he ever purchased. A swatch of leather from the driver’s seat of the car, which stayed in Obama’s possession for only a few years, was submitted to CAG for authentication. CAG’s expert authenticators were able to certify its authenticity thanks to a detailed provenance that included a photocopy of the title listing Obama as the original owner.

Liz Murphy was the next person to own the car, buying it in 2004 from a used-car dealer in Detroit. At that time, Obama was a Senatorial hopeful who was already making a name for himself. Murphy knew the name and made a photocopy of the title, believing it might be valuable at some point in the future. After Obama was elected president, Murphy sold the car at auction, where it was purchased by a collector for $26,500. At the time, an average 2000 Grand Cherokee was worth approximately $3,500.

CAG is proud to assist collectors, estates, artists and museums in the authentication and preservation of historic memorabilia. Its services include authentication, attribution, grading, conservation, encapsulation, and imaging. It also provides advisory services on sales and promotion. More information about the value that CAG’s services bring to collectors is available here.

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