ANTIQUES AND COLLECTING: The three birthdays of George Washington

By Terry and Kim Kovel

This circa 1876 Simon’s Centennial Bitters bottle represents George Washington when he was commander in chief of the Continental Army, 100 years before. (Kovels)

George Washington has had at least three official birthdays. He was born Feb. 11, 1731. But that was according to the Julian calendar used at the time. When the Gregorian calendar was adopted, his birthday was recorded as Feb. 22, 1732. (Read about how the calendar was changed if you’ve never learned this.)

President Chester Arthur renamed Washington’s official birthday as Presidents Day in 1885. Then in 1968, the Unified Monday Holiday Act was passed and became law in 1971. The act moved certain public holidays to Mondays to create three-day weekends, and the third Monday in February became the day for Washington’s celebration (and an extra day off work). In 2022, Washington’s birthday is observed on Feb. 21.

Glass Works Auctions sold the amber “Simon’s Centennial Bitters, Trade Mark” bottle at their auction for $2,640. It is shaped like the bust of President Washington, with the product name embossed on the front below a large, round label panel.


Q: Is there a market for new, unused Woodstock tickets from 1969? We found some in the wall of an old house on our former property in New York, not far from Bethel.


A: The three-day Woodstock Music and Art Fair was originally intended to be held in Woodstock, New York, in August 1969. After objections were raised, the organizers moved the event three times until they were finally able to rent a farmer’s field in Bethel, New York. Tickets sold in advance were $6 per day or $18 for a three-day ticket. Those sold on-site cost $8 or $24 for a three-day ticket.

Unused tickets sell at auctions today for a few hundred dollars depending on their condition. A three-day ticket that was originally $18 sold at a recent auction for $250. A three-day ticket sold on-site for $24 auctioned for $500. There are a lot of fake tickets that are worthless, but there’s a good story behind your tickets that helps give them provenance and authenticity.



Architectural window, transom, arched shape, wooden frame, painted white, nine glass panes, 34 x 61 inches, $70.

Pottery, midcentury, dish, prancing deer & Dalmatian dog, gray ground with dots of snow, gold trim, signed, Waylande Gregory, 12 x 16 inches, $210.

Auto, gas pump globe, Red Chief Gasoline, ethyl, red letters & rim, white ground, metal body, 1940s, 15 inches dia., $1,350.

Weathervane, fox, running, metal, old red paint, traces of gilt, Nantucket, 12 3/8 x 31 1/2 inches, $6,250.


TIP: Dust the backs and tops of framed pictures several times a year.


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