The late Justice’s metallic “Pegasus” collar will go under the gavel in Alexandria this September.
The “Pegasus” collar. Photograph courtesy Potomack Auctions.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s “Pegasus” collar will go to auction in September at Alexandria’s Potomack Auctions.
“You know, the standard robe is made for a man because it has a place for the shirt to show, and the tie,” Ginsburg told the Washington Post in 2009. So she and fellow Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, she said, “thought it would be appropriate if we included as part of our robe something typical of a woman. So I have many, many collars.”
Ginsburg used her collars as “both semiology and semaphore,” Vanessa Friedman wrote for the New York Times in 2020: “They signaled her positions before she even opened her mouth.” She had one for when she was in the majority. Another for dissents (which her children, Jane and James Ginsburg, donated to Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History last year). There were many others she deployed for various occasions.
The “Pegasus” collar was made by Stella & Dot and was a gift from a Los Angeles lawyer named Susan Hyman. It recalled armor, and it’s probably not coincidental that Ginsburg wore it in the court’s official 2018 portrait, the first year Justice Brett Kavanaugh served on the court.
You’ll be able to bid on the collar from September 20 to 21, and the Potomack Company plans to donate part of the proceeds to the American Bar Association’s Ruth Bader Ginsburg Endowed Fund for Research in Civil Rights and Gender Equality.
Potomack will auction another significant piece of US sartorial history at the same time: A fragment of lace that Martha Washington gave to Gilbert Stuart for his portrait of the first president. Lace was a venerable symbol of power in Washington’s day, and it’s no accident that the jabots Ginsburg and O’Connor often wore with their robes were made of the material.
Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute, TBD.com, and Washington City Paper. He lives in Del Ray.