“LONG LIVE THE KING” George Washington Button
(c. 1789) George Washington Inaugural Button Related, “LONG LIVE THE KING” type. Silvered Copper. Cobb-Unlisted. DeWitt-Unlisted. Albert (WHB) page 12. Albert (RAU)-EG. Original Shank is Intact. Very Fine or better.
This highly elusive George Washington Inaugural Period Button measures 36 mm (about 1.5”) in diameter. It has bold central obverse details which exceed that of the finest previously listed, being the Cobb Collection example that was sold in the Stack’s 2003 Americana Sale, Lot 1326. The bright silvery obverse retains most of its original Silvering with some dark copper present where the Silvering has rubbed off mostly at the outer edges. The plain back side has an even natural brown patina. The original Shank is intact, though pushed down flat. Overall, it is sharp in detail and impressive with the brilliant Silvering highlighting the devices. It is likely among the best known of its design type.
This rare style button is collected along with and as part of the Washington Inaugural Button field. The design type has been described as being related to George III's 1789 bout with his illness, though this legend and message could have also come from an earlier decade. Two such buttons were found America, one in Brooklyn and another in Maine. The size and legend of this button type could have easily inspired the design and style for the “Long Live The President” legend buttons of 1789. The high grade Cobb specimen hammered at $13,000 in 2003.
According to Stack’s, Two examples of this button design are included as part of J. Harold Cobb George Washington Button Collection (though that one was of a totally different British Hand-engraved Design and called a “George III” in the master listing.) This current example does read “LONG LIVE THE KING.” and was seriously collected by Cobb, along with his other Washington Inaugural types as an associated button. Images of this can be seen online with the posted “Cobb Collection” information.
The inscription “LONG LIVE THE KING” is quite clear and readable. A number of different button types were made at the time of George Washington’s inauguration as America’s first President at New York City in 1789. Several types were inscribed “Long Live The President” in a style fully similar to this button. A very rare and historically important button collected and considered directly associated to the George Washington Inaugural era types.