American Eagle: A Visual History of Our National Emblem

A bold expression of a fledgling republic’s aspirations and bravado, the American bald eagle has been designed, drawn, illustrated, stamped, engraved, painted, sculpted, carved, photographed, and etched by thousands of artists and artisans since 1782, when it first appeared as the central figure on the Great Seal of the United States.

As America’s most versatile emblem, the eagle emanates confidence during peace and prosperity, and strength during crisis and war; as a North American native species it exemplifies nature’s grandeur and the advance of conservation. In all, the bald eagle is a stirring national symbol made all the more vibrant by its indisputable dominion in the sky.

American Eagle: A Visual History of Our National Emblem explores the eagle in American life through an array of objects in virtually every imaginable shape, size, and medium. Among them are a brass button from one of George Washington’s presidential inaugurations, original prints by John James Audubon and Andy Warhol, a Civil War Bowie knife, and a rare children’s bank from 1910.

Gathered here for the first time, these objects chart the bald eagle’s appearance in government, the military, politics, commerce, travel, art and culture, and nature. Descriptive captions provide physical details and contextual information, and an annotated chronology supplies a comprehensive, illustrated timeline of the bald eagle as an American icon.

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