Silk ribbon from the French Revolution celebration, New York City
Overall: 9 x 2 3/4 in. (22.9 x 7 cm)
White silk ribbon printed in black with medallion portraits of George Washington and Lafayette; "Freedom of the Press"; image of eagle with outstretched wings holding medallion of Benjamin Franklin, and printing press with American flag and Liberty pole; "IN COMMEMORATION OF / THE FRENCH REVOLUTION, / JULY, 1830." Rosette of red, white, and blue silk with jute backing sewn onto ribbon at top.
During the 19th century, New York City celebrated major political events and civic achievements with grand processions up lower Broadway, from the Battery to City Hall. Featured prominently in these parades were trade organizations, such as butchers, bakers, brewers, hatters, saddlers, and shipwrights. This silk ribbon, bearing the image of the eagle holding Franklin's medallion and a printing press with American flag and Liberty pole, were likely printed by the Typographical Society for, or even during, the major celebrations of 1825, `830, and 1842. In 1825, the New-York Mirror reported on the procession celebrating the opening of the Erie Canal: "The Typographical Society, with a car drawn by four horses, upon which were two printing presses, handsomely gilt...Pressmen were busily engaged in striking off copies of an Ode...which were industriously distributed among the public by two Heralds and two Mercuries." Five years later, in a similar celebration for the French Revolution of 1830, the Workingmen's Advocate reported that the printers topped their display at the canal celebration. "Two elegant Printing Presses...tastefully gilded and ornamented, were mounted on separate cars, each drawn by four horses...The ode...suitably and uniformly appareled." In celebration of the completion of the Croton Aqueduct in 1842, the city threw a "Croton Jubilee," in which the printers stole the show: "The typographical brotherhood was most efficiently represented, and no part of the procession attracted more notice. There were two printing presses in full operation during the march, throwing off copies of the Ode, and other matters published en route." It is likely that this souvenir ribbon was printed as part of the live performances of the Typographical Society, en route up lower Broadway at each of the celebrations.
Gift of the Virginia Historical Society
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.