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Monday, February 15, 2016

Dinner and Tea with the Presidents! Washington to Harrison

Happy Presidents' Day!

I even have some Presidents' Day decor in the Foyer!


This is a pitcher I found in a local antique shop. It has a portrait of all the presidents from Washington to Lyndon Johnson. The miniature plate of George Washington was found in the pantry of my kitchen when we renovated it.

As I have posted several times earlier, the inspiration for collecting Presidential and White House china goes to my daughter, Carmen. After touring the Mary Todd Lincoln birthplace, she saw an  ornament of a Lincoln White House china plate and bought one for me and one for herself. 

This made me look into collecting more ornaments, which led to collecting dessert plates and tea cups until the company that produced them went out of business. So I had to start collecting through eBay.

As luck would have it, I was in a local antique shop and happened across a set of six dinner plates. I had no dinner plates and they never come up on eBay, just the dessert plates. I bought one and immediately wished I had bought them all. I contacted my friend who works at the shop and she graciously put them aside for me and even brought them to me!

So, I now have 7 ornaments, 6 dinner plates, 8 dessert plates and 2 cup and saucers. Just enough to for a dinner party in my dining room table and a tea party in my parlor!




I started with a gold tablecloth, gold chargers, gold napkins, and napkin rings. All the patterns have different colors and I felt that gold was a good, Presidential neutral. 

For the centerpiece, I used a gold ornament hanger with the White House china ornaments with gold balls to round it out.


As I said, I have 6 Dinner Plates and 8 Dessert Plates, but they don't all match up.

Here is the George Washington White House China. Martha Washington's monogram is in the middle, surrounded by a chain with the names of the 15 states. The snake swallowing its tail represents perpetuity. The Latin motto in the Sunburst means, "Honor and Defense come from it." The original service was made in Canton and was a gift from the East India Company in 1796.

 Here's the Dinner Plate by itself.

Next is Thomas Jefferson's White House China.

 This color blue is even more beautiful in person! Thomas Jefferson designed this pattern himself with his monogram in the middle and a fleur-de-lis border, reflecting his time spent as the American Minister to France. This original service was manufactured in France.


The dinner plate by itself.


Going in order of their presidency, next is James Monroe. I only have the Monroe Dessert Plate, so more about this dinner plate later. The Monroes' also had their service manufactured in France by the house of Dagoty. The color of the purplish-red border is Amaranth, which at that time symbolized immortality. The medallions represent Strenght, Agriculture, Commerce, Art, and Science.
The central image is the American Eagle.


I only have the Andrew Jackson Dinner Plate, which is below. Andrew Jackson wanted to have his official White House China manufactured in America He was unable to find a firm which could produce his order for a 440 piece set so, his set was also manufactured in France.


The next is my very favorite! James K. Polk was born in NC and graduated from my Alma Mater, UNC, and his wife went to Salem College, my daughters' Alma Mater AND I think it's the prettiest of the White House patterns! Maybe it's just that Carolina and Salem alums have the same taste!


The most distinctive thing about this French service is that a shield of red, white, and blue was used for the first time. The shield has the Latin phrase "E Pluribus Unum" (From many, one) on it.

Here is the dinner plate by itself.


I only have the ornament from the Millard Fillmore China. The Fillmores brought many of their personal items to use in the White House and this china is thought to be among them. There is no official shield or eagle on the originals.


I only have the Dinner Plate from the Franklin Pierce pattern.

When elected, Congress voted to give the Pieces $25,000.00 to improve the White House. After purchasing a furnace and fixing up the building, the Pierces bought 5 dozen place settings of this French Limoges china by Haviland and Company for $536.24.


I've written a whole blog post on the Abraham Lincoln china. This was from his first term. There was also a set ordered for his second term, but he was assassinated before it was used. The purplish-red border was a color called Solferino and was quite popular in the 1860's. 


The Lincoln Dinner Plate



Lastly, on the Dinner Table, I have the Benjamin Harrison Dessert Plate. Caroline Harrison had once taught china painting and designed this china herself. The French Limoges firm of Tresseman and Bogt manufactured this china which has a border of open corn ears in gold on cobalt. The inner border has 44 gold stars to represent each of the states in the Union at that time.Before Mrs. Harrison's time, the White House had yard sales and sold off odd pieces of china from previous administrations. Mrs. Harrison made restoring and cataloging the remaining White House china her project.


Since I have two tea cups and saucers and two more dessert plates, I have moved into the parlor for tea!




The Zachary Taylor pattern was created by British potters in Staffordshire in a variety of blues, featuring the American Eagle.



The U. S. Grant service was created by an alliance between and American artist, William E. Seaton who drew many different  floral decorations for each plate, and Lissac, the painter/engraver at Haviland, who translated each to the dishes.


The two tea cup and saucers are the George Washington and the James K. Polk patterns.



The teapot is a pattern called "Mount Vernon." I tried to see online if this was based on a real pattern of the Washingtons, but no luck. Like many of us, Martha owned a LOT of china patterns!

One of the fun things about the reproductions is that they came with a recipe based on that president's favorite foods. 


The more modern presidents have also had wonderful china patterns, many made by Lenox. There is a Lenox factory near me and I have shopped at the store often, but I just found out that they have a display in their lobby! I see a trip and a new blog post in my future!
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