Coach Painter's Sign

Maker: J. Mason

Date: 1800–1810

Medium: Painted wood

Dimensions: 17 7/8 x 24 x 1 1/2 in. (45.4 x 61 x 3.8 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Purchase, Mrs. Russell Sage Gift, 1970

Accession Number: 1970.190


This sign, which once hung above the entrance to a coach painter’s shop, depicts an eagle with the newly designed American flag in its beak. The ribbon above reads “J. Mason / Coach Painter,” while the ribbon below says “OUR AIM / IS TO / PLEASE.” Here, the artist has replaced the text of the ribbon on the Seal of the United States, which reads E pluribus unum (out of many, one), with his own message to attract customers. In this way, J. Mason has contextualized himself and his business within the new country and legitimized his business as a patriotic enterprise.