Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Presidential China

Presidential china is one of the ways that First Ladies have left their mark on the White House. There is now a special room at the White House (appropriately called the China Room) where pieces from each set are displayed. The plate to the left is from the Wilson set. Not every First Lady has added new china, but many have. The reason for new china every other administration or so is that the sets are used and therefore get broken, stole (yes, this is a big problem! Eleanor Roosevelt actually had some of the plates made larger so that they couldn't easily be put into purses or pockets!), and generally used heavily.

My favorite china is actually the Hayes set, which is displayed to the left. You can see that this china is very color and intricate. Theodore Davis designed these plates and the Haviland company produced them. Davis took designing the china to the next level because he made the plate itself part of his designs.


The Tour Marm said...

First Lady Nancy Reagan was taken to task by the ignorant media for her famous red set from Lenox. It was needed because there were not enough dishes in any set for large state dinners, which required a uniform set for protocol purposes. (Otherwise diplomats would probably obsess over the hidden meanings of who got which set!) Private funds, rather than the public funds, were raised for this.

For a while the White house Historical Association was selling copies of presidential place settings. I had given some away as gifts to teachers.

However, I checked their site and see nothing pertaining to them. Alas!

If anyone knows what happened, please let me know!

Jennie W said...

Most of the presidential centers sell reproduction china in their gift stores. Here's one:

I didn't see the Reagan set, but you might try contacting the Reagan library. They do sell china, but I didn't see Reagan presidential china there either, but you might like some of the other commoratative china they sell:

I also know that the White House has really clamped down on control of reproduction china of late and that might be why you are having trouble find the later pieces (like Reagan).

I have to agree with you that the American public was really mean to Nancy Reagan over that china. China that was paid for by an anonymous private donor, not the public (actually state china has been privately funded for decades)! There was so much negative publicity that the anonymous donor had to actually be named to shut the press up!

I don't think people realize that state china is used a LOT and so it gets worn, it gets stolen (a big issue!) and it gets broken. The Clintons even had some of the older sets reissued to help fill out some of the sets so they could be better used in the White House itself.

Anonymous said...

The White House Historical Association retains control over the copyrights and licenses to furnishings in the White House. Under rules enacted in the late 1990s, at least three decades must have elapsed since the original purchase of the White House china set before a reproduction can be licensed to the public for sale.