G.A.R. HAT OF MACERATED U.S. CURRENCY

$95.00

Quantity Available: 1

Item Code: 1202-141

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Call 717-334-0347,
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This is a miniature G.A.R. uniform dress hat made in a two-part mold from macerated U.S. currency, a genre of tourist souvenir popular in Washington, D.C., from about 1875 into the 1920s. The hat still shows some tiny bits green and is made to resemble the G.A.R. hat with brim and creased crown.  A paper label it pasted to it has some minor losses, but reads: “Made of United States Bank Notes / redeemed and macerated at U.S. / Treasury, Washington, D.C. / Esti-/mated [at $….]00.] The amount referred to the value of batch of currency destroyed to make the pulp from which this was made, of course, adding to its value as a novelty and souvenir. There were National Encampments at Washington both in 1892 and 1902, when this type of souvenir was at its height of popularity.

Instead of burning old currency taken out of circulation, which still left some fragments floating around that might be found and redeemed, the government switched to maceration in 1874, which ground it while wet into pulp. The prospect of seeing many  thousands of dollars destroyed was a novelty and the resulting pulp itself, containing small bits of paper and traces of ink, became the medium for molded souvenirs for sale to tourists of the Capital, with several producers creating portrait busts of notables, patriotic Lincoln or Uncle Sam top hats, miniature buildings like the Washington Monument, but also a wide variety of knickknacks like small animals, shoes, etc. They remained for sale in souvenir shops well into the 1920s, but lost a lot of appeal after 1908 when the government added chemicals to the pulp, destroying the bits of color, though a few entrepreneurs then added their own bits of paper.

This is a nice cross-over piece for currency and G.A.R. collectors.     [sr][ph:m]

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