Inside the Vault
Inside our Vault is an incredibly, continuously growing, curation of Artifacts. Below is a choice selection available for custom orders.
- George Washington
- John Adams
- Thomas Jefferson
- Abraham Lincoln
- Paul Revere
- Calvin Coolidge
- Harry Truman
- Douglas Macarthur
In 1782, on what is now Fauquier Street in downtown Fredericksburg Virginia, George Washington hand-planted 13 Horse Chestnut trees, commemorating the 13 original colonies. The wood seen here is from the last remaining tree, the Georgia Tree (pictured right), researched, documented, and named by the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1924. In 2004 this beautiful tree, at 222 years old, succumbed to old age and was felled. Now, almost 240 years old, this live-edge burl stands as one of the last physical links to George Washington.
John Adams, though the second President of the United States, was the first president to live in the White House. Construction of the White House began in 1792, and was livable enough for Adams and his family to move in on November 1, 1800 before his term ended in 1801. The brick (seen left) is original to the White House's construction and, after surviving the 1814 burning by the British, was removed after roughly 150 years of service during a 1950 renovation. Documented by the 'Commission on Renovation of the Executive Mansion', this brick stands as an amazing link to the original White House and John Adams; the first president to call the White House home and to stand on the literal building bricks of democracy.
Every visitor at Monticello was awestruck by the size of two enormous, sister, Tulip Poplar trees that flanked Monticello. Due to their incredible size they were always assumed 'original' to Monticello's construction, especially considering Jefferson's love of planting trees. It was not until 2011 that the tree (pictured right) was felled and could consequently be dated by Dr. Druckenbrod of Rider University. Dr. Druckenbrod dated the tree to circa 1808, a year that was cross referenced against Jefferson's tree chronology and personal diaries. Researchers and archivists found a journal entry from Jefferson matching the tree's location and date: "“planted 1. Laurodendron in margin of S.W. shrub circle from the nursery.” April 16, 1807. The wood seen here is hewn from that very tree hand-planted by Thomas Jefferson at Monticello in 1807.
The Cherry wooden slab (lower left) was part of a collection of wooden souvenirs removed from Lincoln's birthplace in Hodgenville, KY circa 1875 and sold by the Ladies Lincoln League in the late 1920's to raise funds to build the Lincoln Memorial Library. The second, thinner piece of Red Oak to the right comes from Lincoln's Springfield, IL house; bought in 1844 from the very pastor that married Mary Todd and Abraham Lincoln. This wood was removed during a renovation and cataloged by Lincoln custodian, Herbert Wells Fay in 1930. These two pieces of wood represent two very different parts of Lincolns' life; one being his birth and earliest years, the other as a married man and father running a presidential campaign out of his home.
Despite Paul Revere's influential silver work and cutting edge industrial metal smithing, no other accomplishments in his life hold a candle to the famed 1775 'Midnight Ride' taken to warn townsfolk and militia of approaching British forces. Revere, townsfolk, and Colonial Militia alike looked to the Old North Church steeple for a signal from Robert Newman, sexton, and Captain John Pulling Jr., vestryman. On the night of April 18, 1775, from their high vantage point, Newman and Pulling each held a lantern out of the steeple window, signaling the British advanced "by sea". Minutes before dawn the following day, the first shots of the Revolutionary War rang out. The wood seen here is original to the 1723 construction of the Old North Church and was removed during a 2006 renovation. Today, this near 300 year old wood serves as a physical link to the legacy of Paul Revere and the very first minutes of the Revolutionary War.
Vice President Calvin Coolidge, after facing the sudden death of President Warren G. Harding, found himself thrust into a maelstrom of problems within the White House. Being a man of few words, but of decisive action, 30th President Calvin Coolidge tackled first the allegations of corruption in his predecessor's cabinet, then the physical corruption in the attic. According to reports, the White House suffered a persistent leak in the roof, leading to rot in the attic storage. In 1927 President Coolidge began a large scale renovation of the White House, expanding the attic in the second story to become a full third floor. The block of Pine wood seen here was removed during this very renovation in 1927 and was original to the White House restoration of 1815, following the burning by the British. For 112 years this humble Pine was part of the White House, seeing 26 presidencies in total.
Harry Truman, 33rd President of the United States, entered the White House in 1945 only a few months before the ending of WWII. Though the end of the War was a time of celebration, it also brought an intense need for repair. While simultaneously overseeing the repairs of a war-torn western Europe and countering Soviet pressures as the Cold War flickered to life, Truman was also burdened with a White House overhaul. Through the Great Depression and WWII, White House repair and restoration funding was severely limited. Soon after entering the White House, Truman found the floors to bow and creak, plaster walls sagging, and at one point a leg of his daughter's piano broke through the second floor. Essentially, the wood and brick White House built in the early 1800's needed to be brought into the 20th century. The entire internals of the White House were gutted to the frame and replaced with modern steel and concrete. The gavel seen here is wood removed during this lengthy process, catalogued and sold by the Commission on Renovation of the Executive Mansion in the early 1950's.
Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964) is one of only five men in US history to hold the distinct honor and rank of Five Star General. MacArthur enjoyed a long and illustrious military career, earning several Army and Navy 'Distinguished Service Medals', Silver Stars, Purple Hearts, and even a Medal of Honor. An incredible force to be reckoned with, MacArthur is best publicly known for his prominent role in the Pacific Theater of WWII and as 'Supreme Commander of Allied Forces Army General' when he signed and accepted Japan's formal surrender aboard the USS Missouri September 2, 1945. The aged teak seen here is USS Missouri decking present during her WWII tours and that celebrated September day that WWII finally ended. This teak, over 80 years old, serves as commemoration of one of the most important men, ships, and days of the recent century.
- White House
- Independence Hall
- Old North Church
- Mount Vernon
Through its 227 year life, our nation's celebrated landmark of democracy, the White House, has had many problems thrown its way; emerging triumphant every time. Set in motion by George Washington, construction of the White House started in 1792 and concluded in 1800. Only a few years later, in 1812, it was set ablaze by the British, prompting the first of several renovations to come. These renovations, most notably the Madison-era (1814), Coolidge-era (1927), and Truman-era (1950), yielded amazing historical artifacts from the White House. These pieces of wood, brick, and mortar are physical snapshots of the White Houses' history, memories of our nation's leaders and events frozen in time.
Independence Hall, built 1732-1951, is American historical and political hallowed ground. It is within this very building that our Declaration of Independence (1776) and US Constitution (1787) were signed. Notably, it was also within these walls where the Second Continental Congress met, the Liberty Bell was kept, and President Taft formed the League to Enforce Peace (the roots of the United Nations). The wooden artifacts we have collected are original to the construction, removed during a 1897 renovation; documented and sworn to by Samuel S. Reeves, superintendent of Independence hall from 1892-1908.
July 1-3, 1863, the Battle of Gettysburg was the most important, and bloodiest, battle of the entire Civil War. Confederate General Lee and Union General Meade led their forces in a brutal 3 day engagement in and around Gettysburg, enduring roughly 50,000 total casualties, nearly 1/3 of all troops involved. The Gettysburg artifact seen here was created by Edward Woodward following the Battle. Woodward, a gunsmith by trade, immigrated from London to America in the 1850s, and found himself swept into the Civil War. In his late 40s he was too old for battle, but volunteered in Union hospitals, and eventually found himself tending to the wounded at Gettysburg. In the days after the battle he walked the fields, collecting cannonballs, exploded shells, Minié balls, wood from barricades, and other similar items. Utilizing his metal working skills, Woodward hand crafted a limited number of commemorative Gettysburg displays like the one seen here.
On the night of April 18, 1775 Paul Revere, townsfolk, and Colonial Militia alike looked to the Old North Church steeple for a secret signal from Robert Newman, sexton, and Captain John Pulling Jr., vestryman. Would they see one lantern or two? Are the British advancing 'by land' or 'by sea'? Minutes before dawn the following day, the first shots of the Revolutionary War rang out. The wood seen here is original to the 1723 construction of the Old North Church and was removed during a 2006 renovation. Today, this near 300 year old wood serves as a physical link to the legacy of the Old North Church, Paul Revere's Midnight Ride, and the very first minutes of the Revolutionary War.
Originally built by his father in 1734, on land owner by his great-grandfather, George Washington took control of the famous Mount Vernon estate in 1754. Over the remaining 45 years of his life, George and Martha Washington slowly expanded the humble estate into the opulent, 21-room mansion that it is today. Over the course of several renovations and expansions, Mount Vernon developed a chronically leaky roof, a sore point for Washington. He is recorded in 1784 complaining of the estate being "plagued with leaks" and telling his nephew in 1787 "Let particular care be used to putty, or put copper on all the joints to prevent the leaking, & rotting of the wood". The large section of metal shown here is a piece of that very copper flashing George Washington had installed at Mount Vernon to ward off leaks, removed years after during a restoration.
Thomas Jefferson's mansion, Monticello, has been a work in progress ever since inheriting the land at 26 years old and sketching his first designs. In 1769-1770 the first bricks were made and construction officially began. After some redesigning and remodeling, Monticello was generally completed in 1809 but continually changed and personalized until Jefferson's death in 1826. Unfortunately, after his death, Monticello was in disrepair and changed many hands until being acquired by the 'Thomas Jefferson Foundation' with restorations beginning in the late 1920's. This handmade brick, original to the 1770 construction, is a gorgeous pieces of history tied to one of our Founding Fathers, created in a pre-Revolution America.
In the skies
- Apollo 11
- Apollo 13
- Space Shuttle Columbia
- Wright Brothers
On July 16, 1969 the Apollo 11 Mission crew aboard the Saturn V rocket blasted off, leaving this Earth with plans to land on the moon. Against incredible odds, and nearly a quarter-million miles to their destination, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins reached lunar orbit. Collins remained in the orbiting Command Module, "Columbia", while Armstrong and Aldrins descended in the Lunar Module, "Eagle", setting foot on the Moon July 21. The three brave men returned to Earth in the Command Module July 24, safely splashing down in the Pacific Ocean. The foil pictured here is Kapton Foil collected from the Apollo 11 Command Module after splashdown. Kapton Foil is a metallic, reflective tape designed by NASA to keep the astronauts safe from the incredible heat of atmospheric re-entry. The Command Module that this foil comes from was the only part of the Apollo 11 Mission to return from the Moon; all other pieces of Saturn V were jettisoned in space or left on the lunar surface. This Kapton Foil comes from the private collection of Wiliiam 'Bill' Whipkey, a former NASA engineer and head of the machine shop during Apollo 11's creation.
On April 11, 1970 astronauts James Lovell, John Swigert, and Fred Haise of the Apollo 13 crew launched into space on a Saturn V rocket. These three men had high hopes for their moon landing, almost routine for NASA at this point, and expected to return to Earth unscathed, among the ranks of Apollo 11 and 12. Where Apollo 11 was famous for "one small step", Apollo 13 became infamous for "Houston, we have a problem." On April 13, more than 200,000 miles from Earth, the three astronauts heard and saw an explosion. An oxygen tank had ruptured in the Service Module, forcing the crew to climb into the Lunar Module to serve as a life boat as the Command Module lost oxygen rapidly. Utilizing plastic bags, cardboard, and tape, the crew was able to extend their oxygen supply long enough to make the harrowing journey back to Earth. April 17, 1970 the Apollo 13 Command Module and crew safely splashed down in the Pacific Ocean. The foil picture above is Kapton Foil, a reflective, heat-shield tape designed by NASA to keep astronauts safe during atmospheric re-entry. This Kapton Foil was recovered from the Apollo 13 Command Module, Odyssey after splashdown, and comes from the personal Apollo collection of William 'Bill' Whipkey. Whipkey was a former NASA engineer and head of the machine shop during Apollo 13's creation.
Spanning 22 years of service and 27 successful missions, Space Shuttle Columbia (OV-102) became a routinely-orbiting vehicle for NASA from 1981-2002. Space Shuttle Columbia was the world's first ever reusable spacecraft, launching into orbit atop a rocket, then safely gliding back to land on Earth. A reusable shuttle, coupled with a new rocket design, meant for a much less expensive mission-to-mission cost, prompting several launches per year. Columbia was responsible for building the International Space Station, launching and servicing the Hubble Telescope, deploying several satellites, and carrying out thousands of hours of experiments. The foil pictured above is swatch of thermal blanket from Columbia removed on September 15, 1997 during a routine inspection of the TCS (thermal control systems). These blankets acted as insulation, keeping the astronauts safe from the extreme heat of atmospheric reentry. Tragically, on January 16, 2003 during reentry, damage to the thermal protection caused the left wing to crumble, leading to total disintegration of the Shuttle and death of the seven astronauts on board.
Built in 1905, the Wright III flyer was the very first airplane in the world to have sustained flight and maneuverability and to be named a National Historic Landmark; called 'aviation's greatest relic' by historians. In October of 1905 Wilbur Wright enjoyed a controlled flight of the Wright III Flyer for over 39 minutes and distance traveled of more than 24 miles. This October flight totaled more air time and distance than the previous 109 Wright Brothers flights and glides combined; a new era of aviation had begun. After the flight, the Flyer was quickly disassembled for fears that competitors would steal their design. In 1908 the Flyer was reassembled to take the very passenger (Charles Furnas, mechanic) along, only to crash during a later flight. In 1911, Orville Wright, Louis Christman, and Harvey Gayer of the Wright Company began working together on restoring the salvaged wreckage of the Flyer, not finishing until 1950. The piece of metal pictured is one of two such original Wright III Flyer pieces in private hands, coming directly from the collection of Louis Christman.
Though our element and artifact curation is generally limited to celebrating the man-made, some items are simply too special to be ignored. Pictured above are two different kinds of meteorite, both dated roughly 4.5 billion years old--the time of our universe's formation. Pictured left are fragments of Lunar Meteorite NWA-11788, collected and catalogued in 2017, one of only 175 Lunar Meteorites catalogues in the world. A meteorite such as this is some of the only Lunar materials available on Earth not federally protected by NASA. Pictured right is a slice of meteorite from Campo del Cielo, "Field of Heaven" in Argentina, one of the largest and most famous impact sites on Earth. Only first recorded by explorers in the 1500's, iron from the meteorite had been utilized by natives for tools and weapons for generations prior; noted later to be of 'unusual purity'.
on the seas
- USS Constitution
- USS Missouri
- WWII Ships and Subs
- RMS Titanic
- HMS Victory
The USS Constitution was one of six frigates ordered under George Washington's Naval Act of 1794 "to provided naval armament", the origins of our United States Navy. Launched in October of 1797, USS Constitution soon picked up the nickname 'Old Ironsides' for her resilience in battle as sailors watched cannonballs bounce off the near two foot thick hull. Her official naval battle record of 33 wins and no loses is incredibly impressive, but the USS Constitution is best remembered for her efforts during the War of 1812 where she sunk two British battleships and captured two more. Today she lives on as the oldest commissioned battleship still afloat in the United States and as a monument to the birth of our Navy. The Oak pictured above is over 220 years old, original to the construction of the USS Constitution, and was removed during a 1927 renovation, overseen and catalogued by the USS Constitution Museum.
Launched in 1944, the USS Missouri "Might Mo" was the last battleship commissioned by the United States, earning 11 Battle Stars over her dedicated 48 years of service in WWII, the Korean War, and the Gulf War. Aside from her illustrious career, the USS Missouri is most famously remembered as the location of the Japanese Surrender. Aboard the Missouri on September 2, 1945, Japanese officials signed the Instrument of Surrender, officially ending World War II. Pictured to the right is Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander of Allied Forces Army General, signing and accepting the surrender. The aged teak pictured here is USS Missouri decking, original to the construction of the ship, and removed during a 1992 renovation after being decommissioned. This teak, over 80 years old, serves as commemoration of one of the most important ships and documents of the recent century.
Eagle Pen Company has curated a collection of World War II supercarrier, ship, battleship, and submarine wooden artifacts, referenced below. Please reach out if you would like more history or information regarding our offerings.
• USS Texas (BB-35) decking
• USS California (BB-44) decking
• USS North Carolina (BB-55) decking
• USS Iowa (BB-61) decking
• USS New Jersey (BB-62) decking
• USS Missouri (BB-63) decking
• USS Cavalla (SS-244) quarters
• Cape James (FP-47) decking
• USS Forrestal (CV-59) decking
107 years ago on April 10, 1912, the RMS Titanic, the largest and most opulent passenger ship of the day, set sail from Southampton, England. The Titanic was a technological and luxury marvel, boasting heated cabin water and air, remotely activated safety doors, a swimming pool, squash court, library, steam room, gymnasium, and several fine restaurants. Only five days into their voyage, on April 15, the Titanic struck an iceberg, a fateful incident leading to the death of more than 1,500 passengers; an estimated 705 being rescued hours after the wreck. The wood pictured here is from a plank recovered from the Titanic wreckage by H. Borden Clarke of Halifax, Nova Scotia where aid ships were dispatched. Clarke eventually gifted the Titanic wood to maritime historian and author, Edward Rowe Snow, known for his large collection of shipwreck artifacts.
The HMS Victory, a 104-gun 'first-rate ship of the line' was launched over 250 years ago in May of 1765. Victory is most famous for her overwhelming success at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805; the most important naval battle of the 19th century, keeping Napoleon from invading Britain. Lord Horatio Nelson, admiral of the HMS Victory led his 27 ships against the larger Franco-Spanish force of 33 ships, sinking 19 enemy vessels over the five-hour engagement. Nelson didn't lose a single ship during the battle, but suffered a French sniper's shot and was brought below deck of Victory. Nelson's last words, after being informed of the imminent victory, were "Now I am satisfied. Thank God I have done my duty." The pieces Oak and handmade iron bolt pictured are original to the 1759-65 HMS Victory construction, removed during a massive 1920's restoration project, documented and collected by the HMS Victory Preservation Trust.
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