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A Federal Gilt Mirror with Original Gilt Tabernacle Mirror with Patriotic Reverse Painting, in As-Found Old Surface, c.1800–1810

Provenance: Hillary Nolan

The reverse-painting panel features the figure of the Liberty Goddess with a Liberty Cap on pole. The following information about the Liberty Cap as a symbolic figure was collected from the internet:

The Liberty Cap

The Liberty Cap is a shallow, limp cap, somewhat resembling a woolen ski cap. Its origin is in ancient times, when freed slaves would be given this sort of cap to wear as a sign of their freedom. Hence the symbolism is that the wearer is freed from some sort of slavery. Slavery to what?

In the eighteenth century the cap was worn by radicals who were bent upon the destruction of the monarchies in favor of republican or democratic regimes, in accordance with the dictates of free-thinking and atheistic "philosophers" of the same century. It was a symbol of revolt against the existing order, and a call for a new, radical order in which power was perceived to come from the people, and not from God. A modern equivalent would be the hammer and sickle or the peace symbol of the 1960's.

It is seen either worn on the head, usually by the Liberty Goddess [although absent from the head of the one standing in New York], or more often, it is seen sitting on the top of a pole.

In its second appearance, this symbol of eighteenth century radicalism forms part of a number of seals of the United States: the seal of the States of New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Idaho, Hawaii, Iowa, Colorado, West Virginia, Arkansas, and Virginia as well as that of the United States Senate and the United States Army. It is also found on the Liberty Goddess on the Morgan Dollar [the silver dollar in circulation in the latter part of the nineteenth century] as well as on the "walking" Liberty Goddess of the mid-twentieth century half-dollar, and on the Mercury dime of the same period. [Mercury, by the way, is a favorite god in the masonic menagerie of deities].

The Liberty Cap was confirmed as the symbol of radicalism in the French Revolution, when it became the fashionable attire of anyone who was in favor of the Revolution, and finally of the bloodthirsty and cruel Jacobins, the leaders of the Reign of Terror.