This ceremonial gavel is a copy of the one given to Susan B. Anthony at the first convention of the International Council of Women in Washington, D.C., from March 25 to April 1, 1888. the meeting was assembled by Anthony and other leaders of the National Woman Suffrage Association. The original gavel is in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History’s collection, and is described on their website:
This rosewood and ivory gavel was presented to Susan B. Anthony by delegates from forty-nine countries invited to attend a meeting of the National Woman Suffrage Association. The meeting resulted in the formation of the International Congress of Women. The gavel was used by Anthony, Anna Howard Shaw, and Carrie Chapman Catt to chair Woman Suffrage conventions. The head is engraved “order is Heaven’s first law,” and, “Nat’l Woman Suffrage Assn. March 25 1888,” The quote, “order is Heaven’s first law,” comes from Alexander Pope’s 1734 poem, An Essay on Man.
The National Woman Suffrage Association was formed in 1869 by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton when the women’s rights movement split into two groups over the issue of suffrage for African-American men. Its main goal was to gain the right to vote for women, but it also advocated for other rights for women. It reunited with its sister organization, the American Woman Suffrage Association, in 1890. The International Council of Women was founded by Anthony, May Wright Sewell, Frances Willard and others to promote health, peace, equality, and education. Delegates from nine countries attended the first convention in Washington in 1888. According to one participant, over 1,500 people attended and President Grover Cleveland and his wife hosted a reception in their honor. Though the council’s primary goal was the advancement of women, it did not focus on voting rights. The organization is still active today with more than 70 member countries, promoting peace, equal opportunity and human rights. Headquartered in Paris, the council is affiliated with numerous agencies, including the World Health Organization.
Stieff was a major manufacturer of fine silver in Baltimore, Maryland, from the late 19th century to the end of the 20th century. In the late 1970s, it merged with the Samuel Kirk and Son Company to form Kirk Stieff, but ceased production in the late 1990s.
Engraved inscription one flat hammer end: “Nat’l Woman Suffrage Ass’n March 25th 1888.”
Engraved inscription other flat hammer end: “Order is Heavens first Law.”
Printed Legend Box Top: Susan B. Anthony Gavel — Smithsonian Series
Printed Legend Inside Box:
The Susan B. Anthony Gavel
Given to Susan B. Anthony at the first International Council of Women in 1888, the original gavel is a symbol of the strength and forward thinking of the early advocates of women’s rights. Now you can share their spirit with this reproduction from the Smithsonian collections by Stieff. Handsomely crafted in sterling, rosewood, and an ecologically acceptable substitute for ivory, this reproduction also features the inscriptions found on the faces of the Anthony gavel. One notes the occasion in 1888 and the other reminds the user that “Order is Heaven’s First Law.”
Condition: Gavel and box very good overall with the usual wear and handling.
“Communities in a Changing Nation: The Promise of 19th-Century America.” Smithsonian National Museum of American History. http://americanhistory.si.edu/exhibitions/exhibition.cfm?key=38&exkey=68 (24 May 2006).
“International Council of Women.” International Council of Women. http://www.icw-cif.org/anglais/presentation.htm (8 May 2003).
“International Council of Women.” Women in American History by Encyclopedia Brittanica. 1999. http://search.eb.com/women/articles/International_Council_of_Women.html (8 May 2003).
“National Woman Suffrage Association.” Women in American History by Encyclopedia Brittanica. 1999. http://search.eb.com/women/articles/National_Woman_Suffrage_Association.html (8 May 2003).
Wagner, Sally Roesch. “The Matilda Joslyn Gage House: A Station on the Underground Railroad.” Preservation Association of Central New York. http://www.pacny.net/freedom_trail/Gage.htm#_ftn2 (8 May 2003).