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Why do Presidents Delay on Such an Important Decision?

Posted by RALEIGH DEGEER AMYX on Fri, Apr 20, 2018 @ 10:24 AM

Clinton gold plate

BILL CLINTON OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA SERVICE PLATE  - COMMISSIONED FOR THE 200TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE WHITE HOUSE - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION

One could easily agree that serving as President of the United States is the toughest job in the world. The decisions that must be made are mind-boggling. The ramifications affect millions here at home and around the globe. The stress is tremendous. It seems as if every President who enters office with dark hair emerges from their one or two terms with gray.

The factors that contribute to any given President’s gray hair are the same factors that contribute to his legacy. These factors are determined by events as they unfold. But there is one Presidential legacy each Chief Executive can control: their Official White House China. So why do they wait until the end of their term to purchase a collection of porcelain that they may use only once or a few times (or not at all) before they leave office?

It wasn’t always that way. Our nation’s first Presidents had to supply all of their own furnishings, dinnerware included, for whatever home served as the official residence at the time. It wasn’t until the British burned down the White House and most of its contents in 1814 that Congress formally appropriated funds to be used to furnish the Executive Mansion. So James Monroe became the first President to commission porcelain specifically for official use, rather than having to use his own china.

Monroe plate red backgroud

ELEGANT 1820 JAMES MONROE OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA DESSERT PLATE - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION
SEE MORE EXAMPLES OF OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA

From Monroe’s time forward, Presidents and their First Ladies continued to commission exceptionally lovely porcelain, as new china was needed to replace broken or damaged pieces. Each of these collections of Official White House China was painstakingly designed and produced to reflect the First Couple’s personal taste as well as the status of the Presidency itself and the increasingly important status of the United States in the world. However, the collections were meant to be entirely practical. China was ordered because dishes were required to serve food at formal state dinners.

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EXQUISITE BARACK OBAMA OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA SERVICE PLATE WITH AN IMPOSING EAGLE MOTIF THAT SETS OFF THE BOLD WIDE GOLD BORDER

So, back to our initial question, if china is a necessity, why have modern-day Presidents waited so long to order new services?

Compared to early White House China, modern-day orders include about 10 times the number of place settings, along with related serving pieces. Losses occur over time, but incoming Presidents no longer need to order new china merely to ensure there is enough to serve state guests. But personally-chosen china collections remain a Presidential legacy – a permanent gift to future generations.

Nancy reagan white house china

FIRST LADY NANCY REAGAN PERSONALLY APPROVED EACH AND EVERY SKETCH OF THE STUNNING REAGAN OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA COLLECTION

Official White House China expert Raleigh DeGeer Amyx believes the timing change can be traced back to Nancy Reagan. She ordered a new set of porcelain in 1981, rather early in her husband’s term as President. The china was very expensive, and the press lit into her. They complained about financial priorities, and some were personally unkind in their writings.

In truth, the Reagan White House China was not paid for by taxpayers. It was a gift to the White House and the nation in the Reagans’ name, paid for by their friends and political associates via donations to the White House Historical Fund.

bush white house china

THE TIMELESS GEORGE W. BUSH OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA PATTERN WAS DERIVED FROM THE PERSONAL FAMILY CHINA OF THE JAMES MADISON FAMILY

Since then, Presidents and their First Ladies have waited until they were close to leaving the White House to unveil new china. Mr. Amyx believes self-preservation is at work here, as no one wants to bring on themselves the kind of negative publicity Nancy Reagan received. Once a President-elect has been chosen, notes Mr. Amyx, all the attention focuses on them. The outgoing couple is less likely to be scrutinized as closely as before, offering a “friendlier” environment in which to show off new White House China.

The Clintons, George W. and Laura Bush, and the Obamas all waited until there were just a few weeks left in their term before unveiling their new legacy china. Newly-commissioned Official White House China continues to be tremendously expensive, but it also continues to be paid for by friends and associates of the outgoing administration, not taxpayers.

RALEIGH DEGEER AMYX|JEFFERSON CHINA|PRESIDENTIAL CHINA|WHITE HOUSE CHINA|

RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX - IMPOSING HISTORIAN & COLLECTOR

Distinguished historian and collector Raleigh DeGeer Amyx has acquired a remarkable number of scarce or rare pieces of official White House China. Mr. Amyx’s passion for American historical artifacts has been his sole focus for nearly 40 years. Mr. Amyx's collection is the largest privately-owned collection of extremely high-quality, as well as the rarest, Official White House China and Presidential China in the world. If you would like to engage in a discussion with Mr. Amyx about White House China, please contact him through the button below.

BUY, SHARE, OR TRADE WHITE HOUSE CHINA AND PRESIDENTIAL CHINA

 

Tags: White House China

How It All Started: My First Piece of White House China

Posted by RALEIGH DEGEER AMYX on Thu, Mar 22, 2018 @ 10:30 AM

OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA PLATES RALEIGH DEGEER AMYX COLLECTION

RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX WITH A SMALL PORTION OF HIS AMERICAN HERITAGE MUSEUM IN 1987

Little did Raleigh DeGeer Amyx know it would be the start of something beautiful. Literally beautiful, as well as fascinating. Since he was a child, Mr. Amyx had been a collector and a student of American history. As the years passed, he amassed a very nice collection of Presidential memorabilia. Then a piece of Official White House China caught his eye.

The year was 1980. Raleigh DeGeer Amyx found himself seated in the modest home of a women who had served as a Maid for 20+ years in the White House, which included 12 years during President Franklin D. Roosevelt's tenure in the White House. Mr. Amyx had learned through experience that former White House behind-the-scenes employees were often an excellent source of memorabilia. The woman he was visiting on this day had been referred to him by another retired White House Maid.

“In her dining room cabinet, I spotted two identical Franklin Roosevelt White House China plates,” he says. Because they were smaller than dinner plates, he thought they might have come from a “light luncheon” service. “I really wanted those two plates!” Mr. Amyx confesses. At this point his collection did not include any Presidential porcelain. He figured that if he didn’t acquire them, the woman would leave the plates to her family. “I rationalized to myself that they wouldn’t care about the plates,” he admits.

FDR.Roosevelt.China.OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA FRANKLIN

SIMPLE, YET ELEGANT 1934 FDR OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA DINNER PLATE FEATURES MOTIFS BORROWED FROM THE HISTORIC ROOSEVELT FAMILY COAT OF ARMS - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION
SEE MORE EXAMPLES OF OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA

So Mr. Amyx offered to purchase them. She demurred, saying she had promised the plates to her son, a cab driver. “Do cab drivers collect china?” he asked her. “Are you sure your son wants them? I think he’d probably rather have cash.” Raleigh DeGeer Amyx offered $150 a piece for the plates, and went home with his first acquisition of Official White House China.

Mr. Amyx doesn’t know how the woman acquired the two plates herself. He believes it unlikely that she worked as part of the service team during state dinners, since her primary role was as a maid, a job that would have kept her in other areas of the White House. Nonetheless, she would still have reported to the Chief Usher, the head of all household-related activities within the Executive Mansion.

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ROBERT L. McNEIL, JR. (1915-2010). AMERICAN CHEMIST AND PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY EXECUTIVE WHO INTRODUCED TYLENOL IN 1955. HIS PRESIDENTIAL CHINA COLLECTION WAS CONSIDERED ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT OUTSIDE OF THE WHITE HOUSE.

But there is much more to the story of the two Franklin Roosevelt plates. In about 1984, Raleigh DeGeer Amyx received a phone call from a gentleman who said he was a collector of Official White House China. He had heard Mr. Amyx might have something of interest to him. The gentleman identified himself as Robert L. McNeil, Jr., President and CEO of Johnson & Johnson. Mr. Amyx immediately recognized the name.

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STUNNING PRISTINE JAMES K. POLK 1846 OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA 9.5" SHALLOW SOUP BOWL.THE POLK DINNER PLATE THAT MR. AMYX TRADED FOR HAS THE SAME DIAMETER AND PATTERN AS THIS SHALLOW SOUP BOWL - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLELCTION

“I knew he was successful and a gentleman,” he says, “and I wanted to do business with him.” But Mr. Amyx had to admit he owned just one example of Official White House China – the two identical Franklin plates. Mr. McNeil asked for detailed specifications and a description of the plates, which led him to believe this was a fish entrée plate, not a “light luncheon” service as Mr. Amyx had surmised. Mr. McNeil wanted one of the plates, and offered to make a trade.

What would be a fair trade? Raleigh DeGeer Amyx wondered. When Mr. McNeil offered a dinner plate that had been part of President Polk’s Official White House China, there was no question that was a good deal. The men agreed, and Mr. McNeil sent his personal curator to make the exchange. It is the one and only time Raleigh DeGeer Amyx has ever done business via an intermediary like that. He says it was over in minutes, and he never got to meet Robert McNeil himself.

PRESIDENTIAL CHINA BOOK ROBERT MCNEIL

"AMERICAN PRESIDENTIAL CHINA" BOOK WRITTEN BY ROBERT L. McNEIL, JR. AND HIS CURATOR, SUSAN GRAY DETWEILER. THE HANDSOME BOOK DOCUMENTS McNEIL'S COLLECTION OF OVER 200 PIECES OF PRESIDENTIAL CHINA. 

There was, however, a personal connection of sorts between the two men. Mr. Amyx’s retired father had worked for 20 years as a sales manager for Johnson & Johnson, and to him Robert McNeil was a legend - not only President and CEO of the company, but the chemist who developed Tylenol and headed up that unit within the company as well. “I really went up in the eyes of my father for accomplishing great things,” laughs Raleigh. “He couldn’t believe I actually got to do business with this gentleman.”

That gentleman, who happened to be one of the country’s greatest authorities and collectors of Official White House China, went on to write a book entitled “American Presidential China,” with his curator Susan Gray Detweiler. (The same curator who personally handled the trade with Mr. Amyx.) Mr. McNeil passed away in 2010, bequeathing his entire collection to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where it resides today.

RALEIGH DEGEER AMYX|JEFFERSON CHINA|PRESIDENTIAL CHINA|WHITE HOUSE CHINA|

RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX - IMPOSING HISTORIAN & COLLECTOR

Distinguished historian and collector Raleigh DeGeer Amyx has acquired a remarkable number of scarce or rare pieces of official White House China. Mr. Amyx’s passion for American historical artifacts has been his sole focus for nearly 40 years. Mr. Amyx's collection is the largest privately-owned collection of extremely high-quality, as well as the rarest, Official White House China and Presidential China in the world. If you would like to engage in a discussion with Mr. Amyx about White House China, please contact him through the button below.

BUY, SHARE, OR TRADE WHITE HOUSE CHINA AND PRESIDENTIAL CHINA

 

Tags: White House China

A 30 Year Search for a Reagan Dessert Plate Comes to an End

Posted by RALEIGH DEGEER AMYX on Thu, Mar 08, 2018 @ 10:30 AM

ronald-reagan-white-house-china-dessert-plate.jpg

EXTRAORDINARILY RARE RONALD REAGAN 1981 OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA DESSERT PLATE - AT LAST, PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION

Ask Raleigh DeGeer Amyx what makes a particular piece of Official White House China rare, and he’ll tell you about availability. The fewer the number of pieces available, the rarer they are. Not surprisingly, the oldest examples of Official Presidential China are usually the rarest. There weren’t many pieces produced originally, and now - two centuries or so later - few of those still exist.

Within any set of porcelain, there are far fewer service plates than place settings. So service plates, by nature, are usually rarest. They are also the largest plates, and in the case of Official White House China, service plates are typically “standard bearers” when it comes to design and decoration. So service plates have multiple value to collectors of Official White House China. These are the pieces that newer collectors and those with less extensive collections focus on first.

What really makes the Reagan dessert plate so rare, is that it has its own unique and elegant design. Usually, the dessert plate is just a smaller version of the dinner plate, but in this case, the Reagans went above and beyond with their impeccable taste in china. Thus the Reagan dessert plate is rarer than the serivce plate and all other pieces in the set.

ronald-reagan-white-house-china-SERVICE PLATE

IMPECCABLE REAGAN 1981 OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA SCARLET RED STATE DINNER SERVICE PLATE - PART OF THE RAEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION
SEE MORE EXAMPLES OF OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA

Even so, a collector may wait 10 or 15 years before securing the service plate they want. It’s not surprising they aren’t even thinking about dessert plates. Also, dessert plates don’t necessarily have any special aesthetic cache, since they are often simply smaller versions of the service plates. Mr. Amyx was especially keen on the Reagan dessert plate because its design is very different.

But why does he describe this dessert plate as extremely rare? Because there is another factor that affects availability. When people contact Mr. Amyx looking to sell a piece of White House China, it is typically a service plate they are offering. It rarely occurs to individuals who own historic pieces that their dessert plate may be valuable to someone else.

REAGAN WHITE HOUSE CHINA SERVICE PLATE

HANDSOME REAGAN 1983 UNOFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA SERVICE PLATE - DESIGNATED AS EVERYDAY CHINA, NEVER TO BE USED FOR OFFICIAL STATE DINNERS - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION

Only an advanced collector, says Mr. Amyx, would recognize the value of searching for a dessert plate after they have already acquired the most-desirable service plate. You might go years and hope to see a dessert plate, he says. You keep your eye out month after month, year after year, or, as in the case of Mr. Amyx, even decade after decade.

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VERSO MARKING THAT WOULD APPEAR ON EACH PIECE OF THE 1981 RONALD REAGAN OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA

And so after 30 years of watching and waiting, Raleigh DeGeer Amyx finally found a Reagan dessert plate available via an auction house in Dallas. He arranged to participate in the bidding by phone. That’s nerve-wracking, he notes, because you’re competing against other bidders who may have sent in a written bid or who may be there in person or connected online, where they can actually see the auctioneer. On the phone, you’re at the mercy of the person on the other end of the line. And you have just a split-second to offer your next bid. On average, an item at auction is sold within 60 seconds.

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EXAMPLES OF OTHER PIECES FROM THE 1981 REAGAN OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA. ONLY THE SERVICE PLATE AND THE DESSERT PLATE DISPLAY THE ELEGANT GOLD LATTICE DESIGN ON THE WIDE RED BORDER

This time, Mr. Amyx prevailed. He could hardly wait to receive the piece, and he is proud that the stunning Reagan dessert plate now resides within his exceptional collection of Official White House China.

RALEIGH DEGEER AMYX|JEFFERSON CHINA|PRESIDENTIAL CHINA|WHITE HOUSE CHINA|

RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX - IMPOSING HISTORIAN & COLLECTOR

Distinguished historian and collector Raleigh DeGeer Amyx has acquired a remarkable number of scarce or rare pieces of official White House China. Mr. Amyx’s passion for American historical artifacts has been his sole focus for nearly 40 years. Mr. Amyx's collection is the largest privately-owned collection of extremely high-quality, as well as the rarest, Official White House China and Presidential China in the world. If you would like to engage in a discussion with Mr. Amyx about White House China, please contact him through the button below.

BUY, SHARE, OR TRADE WHITE HOUSE CHINA AND PRESIDENTIAL CHINA

 

Tags: White House China

White House China FAQs

Posted by RALEIGH DEGEER AMYX on Tue, Feb 27, 2018 @ 10:28 AM

james-polk-WHITE HOUSE china-dessert-plate-peonys.jpg

PRISTINE 1846 JAMES K. POLK DESSERT PLATE - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION

Raleigh DeGeer Amyx is a valuable resource in the world of White House China. Mr. Amyx is well-known and highly respected as a collector of Official White House China, and his website contains a wealth of information. So you might think he is frequently asked general questions about Presidential porcelain. However, that is not the case. Although people occasionally contact him to ask about valuation of china that is clearly not Presidential, this is outside his area of interest.

Most questions come from other collectors interested in purchasing a piece from Mr. Amyx’s collection, or from someone who happens to own a rare piece or two they wish to sell.

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EXTRAORDINARILY RARE 1879 RUTHERFORD B. HAYES FISH PLATE - PART OF THE RAEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION
SEE MORE EXAMPLES OF OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA

For example, not too long ago, a woman contacted him wondering if he might be interested in two pieces of Rutherford B. Hayes’ Presidential china. She had inherited the plates from her great aunt, along with a very rare platter with handles that had been part of Abraham Lincoln’s original porcelain order in 1861. The woman did not know how her aunt had come to own the pieces.

Mr. Amyx’s collection may be second to none, but he is always open to acquiring new pieces – if he considers them to be rare and special enough. “You just don’t see things like that Lincoln platter,” he notes, “because so few of them were made to begin with.”

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REMARKABLY RARE NEAR PRISITNE CONDITION ABRAHAM LINCOLN DOUBLE-HANDLED PLATTER BELIEVED TO BE FROM THE 1861 ORDER - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION

Often, he says, when prospective sellers approach him the first question they ask is, “What is it worth?” He would prefer they tell him how much they want for the piece. Thanks to the internet, it is not difficult to find information about Presidential china. Searching may still require some hard work, but not necessarily. Mr. Amyx warns, though, that discovering auction results for similar pieces could be misleading. That’s because condition is critical in determining value.

Sometimes, a prospective seller will phrase their question differently: “Here’s what I have. What would you pay for it?” Mr. Amyx feels that when the owner of piece is calling around to collectors asking that question, that constitutes an auction. If people want bids, he recommends approaching an auction house about selling their piece.

white-house-china-book.jpg

THIS OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA BOOK IS A MUST-HAVE FOR SERIOUS COLLECTORS. THE AUTHOR IS BILL ALLMAN, HIGHLY RESPECTED WHITE HOUSE CURATOR

Mr. Amyx considers himself a very fair person, but he says negotiation is part of the buying and selling process. And he likes to learn as much as the current owner can tell him about the provenance of the piece on offer. He typically requests written descriptions of any damage, along with the photographs of the piece from all angles so he can confirm the piece’s identity and condition in minute detail. That comprehensive back-and-forth discussion determines the price he’s willing to pay.

But he never buys anything sight unseen, so the seller sends the piece to him. Once he receives it, he examines it right away and sends a check by the next day. Because the up-front discussion is so detailed, Mr. Amyx has never changed his mind about purchasing a piece after seeing it in person.

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EXCEPTIONALLY RARE 1786 GEORGE WASHINGTON SMALL OVAL SERVING PLATE IN NEAR PRISTINE CONDITION - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION.

Not every negotiation results in a finalized sale, even if the owner and Mr. Amyx agree on a purchase price. That’s because occasionally someone will refuse to ship him their porcelain for an in-person examination without receiving payment first. Mr. Amyx admits that there have been occasions when he lost out on a piece he really wanted for this reason, but he holds firm. He points out that his credentials, reputation, and trustworthiness are easily verified.

You don’t have to speak with Raleigh DeGeer Amyx long to pick up on his careful attention to detail. So once negotiations are complete, people usually ask his advice on how to safely ship the piece to him. What does he recommend for shipping porcelain so valuable it is priceless? “Atomic bomb proof” packing. Since 1981, he has never shipped anything that became damaged in transit.

Even if a deal falls through or he is not interested in buying a particular piece, he tries to keep things positive. Collecting something as significant and valuable as White House China depends on building relationships as much as finding the right pieces.

RALEIGH DEGEER AMYX|JEFFERSON CHINA|PRESIDENTIAL CHINA|WHITE HOUSE CHINA|

RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX - IMPOSING HISTORIAN & COLLECTOR

Distinguished historian and collector Raleigh DeGeer Amyx has acquired a remarkable number of scarce or rare pieces of official White House China. Mr. Amyx’s passion for American historical artifacts has been his sole focus for nearly 40 years. Mr. Amyx's collection is the largest privately-owned collection of extremely high-quality, as well as the rarest, Official White House China and Presidential China in the world. If you would like to engage in a discussion with Mr. Amyx about White House China, please contact him through the button below.

BUY, SHARE, OR TRADE WHITE HOUSE CHINA AND PRESIDENTIAL CHINA

 

Tags: White House China

WHICH RECENT PRESIDENT MISSED THE MARK ON THEIR WHITE HOUSE CHINA DESIGN?

Posted by RALEIGH DEGEER AMYX on Tue, Feb 13, 2018 @ 10:30 AM

BUSH WHITE HOUSE CHINA

FIRST LADY LAURA BUSH AND HER ELEGANT SELECTION OF THE BUSH OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA SERVICE PLATE

Usually when we write about a particular president’s Official White House China, we consider it on its own merits. We talk about how that service reflects the history and politics of its time and/or the personalities and preferences of the President and First Lady. We don’t usually compare one set of Presidential porcelain to another except, as an example, to note motifs that are similar. In this article, we will change our perspective, to compare the three most recent collections of White House China.

Let’s look at the “vital statistics” first. President Clinton’s Official White House China included 300 12-piece settings. The service was produced by Lenox at a cost of $500,000 and delivered in November 2000. The Official White House China ordered by George W. and Laura Bush was also made by Lenox and was delivered in January 2009. It included 320 14-piece place settings and also cost almost $500,000. The Obama Official White House China arrived in April 2015. It consisted of 320 11-pc settings and was produced by Pickard at a total cost of $360,000. All three of these Official White House China collections were purchased using private funds, not public funds.

CLINTON WHITE HOUSE CHINA PLATE

STUNNING CLINTON OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA SERVICE PLATE MAKES QUITE A STATEMENT TO COMMEMORATE THE 200TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE WHITE HOUSE
SEE MORE EXAMPLES OF OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA

For most of the history of Official White House China, the common design motif has been an eagle, representing the President of the United States. The eagle’s details have differed somewhat, as has its placement – sometimes in the center of each plate, sometimes as “12 o’clock” on the rim. President and Mrs. Clinton broke with this tradition. The design departure was dramatic, but this china served two purposes. It not only represents the Clinton administration, it commemorates the 200th anniversary of the White House as the Executive Mansion.

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THE LOVELY BILL CLINTON OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA SERVICE INCLUDES 300 TWELVE PIECE PLACE SETTINGS - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION

So the Clinton Official White House China featured the White House instead of the Presidential emblem. The service plate, the dinner plate and the dessert plate are the only three Clinton pieces that have the White House motif. Various exterior and interior architectural elements are depicted on the different types of pieces within the stunning collection.

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THE SOPHISTICATED BUSH OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA PLATES - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION

First Lady Laura Bush returned to tradition with the design she chose, using a soothing green color she felt would blend nicely with floral arrangements as well as Christmas decorations. The design incorporates a circle of laurel leaves reminiscent of James and Dolley Madison’s Official White House China, and the eagle is front and center on the plate. With its basket-weave pattern and gold detailing, the service is quietly elegant and certainly Presidential.

OBAMA WHITE HOUSE CHINA

A COMPLETE 11 PIECE OBAMA OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA PLACE SETTING. THERE ARE 320 PLACE SETTINGS IN TOTAL.

Barack and Michelle Obama also departed from tradition, at least in part. They selected an unusual color they named Kailua Blue, to represent the waters of President Obama’s native Hawaii. As a noted collector and distinguished historian on Official White House China, Raleigh DeGeer Amyx feels the Obamas missed the mark with their design, in two ways.

barack-obama-white-house-china-1.jpg

EXQUISITE OBAMA SERVICE PLATE WITH AN IMPOSING EAGLE MOTIF AND A STUNNING GOLD BORDER

1. The pale plate rims don’t stand out on a white tablecloth, so they fail to make the statement, “I am Presidential china!” to foreign dignitaries and invited State Dinner guests.

2. Few of the collection’s pieces actually carry the Presidential eagle on the front. The service plates do, as well as the dessert plates and the coffee cup. Mr. Amyx believes the choice of having a less Presidential design, as most all the Obama pieces do, will likely reduce the future value of Obama Official White House China and interest from White House China collectors.

OBAMA WHITE HOUSE CHINA

THE UNVEILING OF THE OBAMA OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA ON APRIL 23, 2015 IN THE EAST ROOM

Since the tenure of James and Dolley Madison, Presidents and their First Ladies have commissioned Official White House China to be used for state dinners. The porcelain was a functional necessity, and its elegance underscores the President’s status to foreign visitors. Typically, new china was only ordered to fill in gaps or replace entire collections as needed. The Clinton collection commemorates a unique point in White House history. It was ordered as a complete service. Nine years later, George W. and Laura Bush ordered another complete set, and seven years later the Obamas did the same. Among them, Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama ordered a combined total of nearly 12,000 pieces of White House China. An extraordinary number of pieces.

barack-obama-white-house-china-JAMES MADISON

OUR 44TH PRESIDENT (BARACK OBAMA) BORROWS A CHINA PATTERN FROM OUR 4TH PRESIDENT (JAMES MADISON). THE FIRST TIME IN AMERICAN HISTORY THAT AN OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA DINNER PLATE HAS NO COAT OF ARMS AND NO COLOR

One might think that oredering nearly 12,000 pieces of White House China in a 15 year period is excessive. The White House requires far more place settings these days because state dinners are far larger gatherings than decades or a century ago. But 12,000 pieces is a lot of porcelain by any standard. Nonetheless, these three most recent sets of china were ordered not out of need but for “presence.” Official White House China is a First Lady’s chance to leave her own legacy. And why not? The cost of Presidential china is covered by donations to the White House Historical Association, made by the President’s friends and supporters.

RALEIGH DEGEER AMYX|JEFFERSON CHINA|PRESIDENTIAL CHINA|WHITE HOUSE CHINA|

RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX - IMPOSING HISTORIAN AND COLLECTOR

Distinguished historian and collector Raleigh DeGeer Amyx has acquired a remarkable number of scarce or rare pieces of official White House China. Mr. Amyx’s passion for American historical artifacts has been his sole focus for nearly 40 years. Mr. Amyx's collection is the largest privately-owned collection of extremely high-quality, as well as the rarest, Official White House China and Presidential China in the world. If you would like to engage in a discussion with Mr. Amyx about White House China, please contact him through the button below.

BUY, SHARE, OR TRADE WHITE HOUSE CHINA AND PRESIDENTIAL CHINA

 

Tags: White House China

Top 7 Pieces of White House China That Were Most Difficult to Acquire: Part 2

Posted by RALEIGH DEGEER AMYX on Tue, Jan 23, 2018 @ 10:30 AM

barack-obama-white-house-china-

UNIQUE BARACK OBAMA OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA DINNER PLATE - THIS IS THE FIRST PRESIDENTIAL DINNER PLATE TO HAVE NO COLOR AND NO PRESIDENTIAL COAT OF ARMS - THE 3-D DESIGN, HOWEVER, IS BASED SOLEY ON THE RARE JAMES MADISON OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA DINNER PLATE

In our previous Part 1 blog article, we asked distinguished White House China collector Raleigh DeGeer Amyx which pieces in his collection were the most difficult to acquire. Not surprisingly, he says the seven that were hardest to find were also the rarest. In that article, he described his acquisition of porcelain used by Presidents George Washington, James Madison, and James Monroe. Now let’s look at the other four.

JOHN QUINCY ADAMS - As President, John Quincy Adams used china from the Monroe collection when hosting foreign dignitaries, but on some occasions he used his personal porcelain service for state dinners instead. So the china pictured below, purchased when he was Secretary of State, is also considered Official White House China.

john-quincy-adams-white-house-china-custard-cup.jpg

ELEGANT AND RARE JOHN QUINCY ADAMS OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA ONE-PIECE CUSTARD CUP -  A HIGHLIGHT OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION
SEE MORE EXAMPLES OF OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA

There is no record of the original quantity. Mr. Amyx gave up hope of finding a piece, rationalizing to himself that this china didn’t really look “Official” anyway, because it bears no presidential eagle. Then he spotted a picture of a John Quincy Adams custard cup in an auction catalog, and bid successfully. “Finally, I had it!” he says.

Within a year, an antiques dealer noticed a picture of the custard cup on Mr. Amyx’s website and offered to sell him more pieces. Mr. Amyx chose a square plate and a 9” soup bowl. Suddenly, after nearly 35 years of searching to no avail, Mr. Amyx now finds himself the “world’s greatest acquirer” of John Quincy Adams Official White House China.

hayes white house china plate

ELEGANT HAND-PAINTED RUTHERFORD B. HAYES OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA DESSERT PLATE - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION

RUTHERFORD B. HAYES - The Hayes White House China features stunning paintings that depict American nature – flowers, trees, land and sea animals – on unusually-shaped plates and bowls. It is not so difficult to find pieces that look identical to the porcelain President Hayes commissioned, because the original order was later augmented with replacements and Haviland also reproduced the china for sale to the public.

rutherford-hayes-white-house-china-plate-cypher-1879.jpg

RARE "1879 TH" SIGNATURE CYPHER ON THE HAYES OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA FISH PLATE

However, only 562 pieces from the first order bear a distinctive “TH” cypher on the verso. Neither White House replacements nor dishes sold to the public carry this mark. That makes porcelain from the original order extremely rare indeed.

Competition for Hayes Presidential China comes from collectors who focus on natural history artifacts as well as those who collect china itself, Presidential or otherwise. Some china collectors further limit their acquisitions to one specific manufacturer.

teddy theodore-roosevelt-white-house-china-fish-plate.jpg

CLASSIC THEODORE ROOSEVELT OFFICICAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA STATE FISH PLATE - MANUFACTURED BY WEDGEWOOD - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION

THEODORE ROOSEVELT - The porcelain service ordered by Theodore Roosevelt for official use included 1296 pieces. Mr. Amyx believes that, “If they had the opportunity and money, people would buy this White House China only because it belonged to President Roosevelt.”

In fact, the piece in his own collection came from a well-known collector whose interest was solely in Theodore Roosevelt and JFK political artifacts. He had purchased the plate at a political collectors’ show some 10 years earlier, and Mr. Amyx had repeatedly admired it. One day the owner offered to sell it, and Mr. Amyx says he was “thrilled to get it for such a reasonable price.” 

The ability to get along well with people and build relationships over the years has enabled Raleigh DeGeer Amyx to uncover and acquire very special items for his collection.

pierce white house china plate

ELEGANT FRANKLIN PIERCE OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA PLATE - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION

FRANKLIN PIERCE - Mr. Amyx says that in his more-than-30 years of collecting Official White House China, he has never seen a piece from the Pierce Presidency go up for auction – except once. And that was the piece Mr. Amyx was able to acquire.

He bought the plate almost by accident. At the time, he had been collecting Presidential China for only a few years, and he had no idea this particular piece was so valuable, but he sensed that he should bid on it. Mr. Amyx was able to purchase it at a reasonable price, only later discovering its uniqueness when he saw a Pierce piece on display at the White House. The Pierce China order consisted of just 287 pieces.

Mr. Amyx also relates that Barbara Pierce Bush – a direct descendant of Franklin Pierce – included a plate from his White House China in a rotating display in the Oval Office during her tenure as First Lady.

So there you have it - the seven examples of Official White House China that collector Raleigh DeGeer Amyx says were most difficult to find. In order, by his assessment: George Washington, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, Rutherford B. Hayes, Theodore Roosevelt, and Franklin Pierce. But he isn’t finished collecting. Mr. Amyx is always on the lookout for the next historically significant and exceptionally lovely piece of Official White China. Which piece of Official White House China will he acquire next?

RALEIGH DEGEER AMYX|JEFFERSON CHINA|PRESIDENTIAL CHINA|WHITE HOUSE CHINA|

RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX - RENOWNED HISTORIAN AND COLLECTOR

Distinguished historian and collector Raleigh DeGeer Amyx has acquired a remarkable number of scarce or rare pieces of official White House China. Mr. Amyx’s passion for American historical artifacts has been his sole focus for nearly 40 years. Mr. Amyx's collection is the largest privately-owned collection of extremely high-quality, as well as the rarest, Official White House China and Presidential China in the world. If you would like to engage in a discussion with Mr. Amyx about White House China, please contact him through the button below.

BUY, SHARE, OR TRADE WHITE HOUSE CHINA AND PRESIDENTIAL CHINA

 

Tags: White House China

Top 7 Pieces of White House China That Were Most Difficult to Acquire: Part 1

Posted by RALEIGH DEGEER AMYX on Tue, Jan 09, 2018 @ 10:30 AM

Lincoln.china-724900-edited.jpg

ELEGANT OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA PIECES FROM THE ABRAHAM LINCOLN COLLECTION - A FAVORITE AMONG SUBSEQUENT PRESIDENTS, THIS PATTERN HAS BEEN REPRODUCED MORE THAN ANY OTHER - SOME EXAMPLES ARE PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION

Every successful collector is an experienced detective. It takes knowledge, insight, and sometimes a little creativity to find the pieces you want. And, often, it can take years. Decades, even. When it comes to Official White House China, renowned collector Raleigh DeGeer Amyx says his pieces that have been most difficult to acquire are those that are the rarest.

It’s easy to understand why some White House China, in particular, is now extremely rare. Early Presidents ordered far smaller quantities of china for official use than today’s residents of the Executive Mansion, because state dinners were much more intimate affairs in early times.

Carter_china.jpg

THE BEAUTIFUL JIMMY CARTER WHITE HOUSE CHINA WAS ACTUALLY NEVER USED IN THE WHITE HOUSE SINCE IT ARRIVED AFTER CARTER LEFT OFFICE - SOME EXAMPLES ARE PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION

Some Presidential china patterns were never reordered, either by the same President or subsequent office-holders. And time takes its toll on all porcelain, so it’s only natural that breakage would decimate the oldest collections of Presidential China, further reducing the number of pieces available to modern-day collectors.

When all those factors converge, Mr. Amyx says it can be like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack. On top of that, there are other factors that make certain Presidents’ china more competitive to collect. Within his exquisite collection of White House China, there are seven pieces Mr. Amyx points to as the toughest to acquire. In this article, we’ll look at three of them. Stay tuned to read about the remaining four pieces.

washington white house china plate

NEAR PRISTINE GEORGE WASHINGTON WHITE HOUSE CHINA PLATE - THIS PORCELAIN IS THE OLDEST PRESIDENTIAL CHINA, ONE OF THE RAREST, AND, THERFORE, ONE OF THE HARDEST TO ACQUIRE - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION
SEE MORE EXAMPLES OF OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA

GEORGE WASHINGTON - Technically, our first President’s official dinnerware was never “White House” china, because he never lived in the White House. However, because Washington used his own Society of Cincinnati dinnerware to serve visiting foreign dignitaries, that service is now considered Official White House China. There were 302 pieces in the original Society of Cincinnati order. The few pieces that remain are difficult to collect for their value as “Presidential China,” as the porcelain is also sought-after by those who collect all types of George Washington memorabilia. Mr. Amyx considers only Franklin Pierce’s china to be rarer than Washington’s.

madison white house china plate

EXTREMELY RARE JAMES MADISON LOZENGE SERVING DISH - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION

JAMES MADISON - Given its history, it’s a wonder that any “Official” China from Madison’s Presidency still lives on today. His original order of porcelain was destroyed when the British burned down the White House. Forced to live and serve state guests in a private home while the Executive Mansion was under reconstruction, Madison contributed a set of dinnerware from his own home, Montpelier. This was a 231-piece service he obtained while serving as Secretary of State. That porcelain, too, suffered several indignities over the years, and now only 30 pieces are known to remain. Mr. Amyx owns four of them.

monroe white house china dessert plate

STUNNING DESSERT PLATE FROM THE JAMES MONROE OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA COLLECTION - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION

JAMES MONROE - “This china is so gorgeous,” notes Mr. Amyx, “and Monroe was a two-term President. You’d think he would have ordered more, and the next President didn’t even order more.” To this day, it is not yet clear how many items were in Monroe’s original order of Official White House China, but what few remain are now very rare. “I don’t even own the prettiest piece,” he admits.

RALEIGH DEGEER AMYX|JEFFERSON CHINA|PRESIDENTIAL CHINA|WHITE HOUSE CHINA|

RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX - RENOWNED HISTORIAN AND COLLECTOR

Distinguished historian and collector Raleigh DeGeer Amyx has acquired a remarkable number of scarce or rare pieces of official White House China. Mr. Amyx’s passion for American historical artifacts has been his sole focus for nearly 40 years. Mr. Amyx's collection is the largest privately-owned collection of extremely high-quality, as well as the rarest, Official White House China and Presidential China in the world. If you would like to engage in a discussion with Mr. Amyx about White House China, please contact him through the button below.

BUY, SHARE, OR TRADE WHITE HOUSE CHINA AND PRESIDENTIAL CHINA

 

Tags: White House China

How did the tradition of White House China start?

Posted by RALEIGH DEGEER AMYX on Thu, Dec 28, 2017 @ 11:30 AM

george washington white house china plate

RARE GEORGE WASHINGTON OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE PLATE - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION

Originally, the tradition of Official White House China did not begin with our first president, George Washington. Sometime later, it was determined that George Washington's China qualified to be classified as White House China, even though there was no White House during his Presidency.

The United States was a brand new country, so there were no “presidential provisions.” In fact, the first United States capital was New York, then later it was Philadelphia. Most of the furnishings used by the President during this time, including china, were from his personal belongings.

However, President Washington did select what would become Washington, D.C. as the official government seat. He also chose the exterior design of the President’s House, now known as The White House. Even after the official Presidential mansion was completed, though, Presidents continued to supply their own furnishings, because there were no government funds to pay for such things.

james monroe white house china dessert plate

ELEGANT JAMES MONROE OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA DESSERT PLATE - MANUFACTURED BY DAGOTY & HONORE - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION
SEE MORE EXAMPLES OF OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA

It wasn’t until the inauguration of our fifth President, James Monroe, that we saw the genesis of Official White House China. Right away, Monroe obtained Congressional approval to establish a separate fund to furnish The White House. This was 1817, and perhaps Congress was especially willing to set aside money for furnishing the mansion, as The White House and its contents had been ravaged by fire in 1814 during the British burning of the Executive Mansion. Among the furnishings Monroe chose was a set of china. The collection included 30 place settings plus a matching dessert service.

Everything Monroe purchased came from France. Before becoming President, Monroe served two terms as America’s Minister to France, so he had lived there for eight years. It’s easy to imagine that during that time he came to appreciate and be influenced by the fine things he saw in Paris. In those years, Paris was a highly sophisticated city that may have counted as many as a million residents. Back home in the United States, it would have been hard to find a town with even 100,000 people, and most were far smaller. So bringing fine quality furnishings and porcelain from Paris was Presidentially appropriate.

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STUNNING HAND-PAINTED ULYSSES S GRANT OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA DINNER PLATE - MANUFACTURED BY HAVILAND & COMPANY - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION

The china that was designed for President Monroe features an eagle with its wings spread, the first time this motif was used as a Presidential “crest.” So Monroe’s china set a precedent in this regard as well. This porcelain is so beautiful that, even today, renowned collector Raleigh DeGeer Amyx considers it to be the most beautiful Official White House China ever.

Some of the furnishings purchased by James Monroe are still in use today. And thanks to the precedent he set, the tradition of Official White House China continues today. There is a financial footnote to this story, however. Over the years, the amount of china required to accommodate official State dinners has grown tremendously, with recent collections exceeding ten times the 30 place settings in Monroe’s service. The cost has grown exponentially as well. Therefore, since the time of Lyndon Baines Johnson’s Presidency, Official White House China has not been funded by the government but by private donations from the President’s friends and key supporters.

clinton_china_full_set_4_pieces_clinton-white-house-china-1.jpgcarter_w.h._china_full_shot_jimmy-carter-white-house-china-dinner-plate-1.jpgTHE LOVELY BILL CLINTON OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA SERVICE INCLUDES 300 TWELVE PIECE PLACE SETTINGS - MFG. BY LENOX - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION 

RALEIGH DEGEER AMYX|JEFFERSON CHINA|PRESIDENTIAL CHINA|WHITE HOUSE CHINA|

RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX WORLD RENOWNED HISTORIAN AND COLLECTOR 

World renowned collector Raleigh DeGeer Amyx has acquired a remarkable number of scarce or rare pieces of official White House China. Mr. Amyx’s passion for American historical artifacts has been his sole focus for nearly 40 years. Mr. Amyx's collection is the largest privately-owned collection of extremely high-quality, as well as the rarest, Official White House China and Presidential China in the world. If you would like to engage in a discussion with Mr. Amyx about White House China, please contact him through the button below.

BUY, SHARE, OR TRADE WHITE HOUSE CHINA AND PRESIDENTIAL CHINA

 

Tags: White House China

Discover the difference between Official & Unofficial White House China

Posted by RALEIGH DEGEER AMYX on Thu, Nov 16, 2017 @ 10:22 AM

RONALD NANCY REAGAN WHITE HOUSE CHINA PLATE

STUNNING 1981 RONALD REAGAN OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA PLATE IN NEAR PRISTINE CONDITION - MANUFACTURED BY LENOX - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION

When you peruse our website, you’re bound to see numerous references to Official White House China. Many Presidents and First Ladies have ordered a specially-designed porcelain service to be used for official purposes. It is an enduring part of each administration’s legacy. However, there is also such a thing as “unofficial” White House China. So what is the difference?

To be considered Official, Presidential china must meet two criteria:

1. It must have been used during the President’s term for official state dinners held to host foreign dignitaries.

2. It must have been used in the White House.

In the course of performing their job as Chief Executive, sitting Presidents of the United States eat thousands of meals, both in the White House and elsewhere. The President often stays and works at Camp David, accompanied by staff but also family members and/or guests who may even be foreign dignitaries. The President travels on Air Force One, which has its own sets of unofficial china service. Earlier in the 20th century, the President had an official yacht - with a separate unofficial china service - at his disposal for personal leisure or entertaining guests.

FDR FRANKLIN D ROOSEVELT WHITE HOUSE CHINA PLATE YACHT USS WILLIAMSBURG

LOVELY LENOX SERVICE PLATE FROM UNOFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA ORDERED BY FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT SPECIFICALLY FOR THE PRESIDENTIAL YACHT, THE USS WILLIAMSBURG - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION
SEE EXAMPLES OF OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA

All of these are what we might call Official Presidential settings, so the porcelain used on any of them could be considered Presidential china. But none of these other locations is the actual White House, so the china does not quality as Official White House China.

AIR FORCE ONE CHINA JFK JOHN F KENNEDY CUP SAUCER

CLASSIC AIR FORCE ONE CHINA CUP AND SAUCER - UNOFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA - PERHAPS SELECTED BY PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY AND FIRST LADY JACQUELINE BOUVIER KENNEDY

Even within the Executive Mansion, there are multiple sets of china. The Official service is not generally considered everyday china, although Presidents may use these pieces at any time, for any meal, formal or informal. Many Presidents and their First Ladies have ordered entirely separate dinnerware specifically for less formal occasions such as family dinners or lunch with friends. These collections are Presidential china, but not Official White House China.

RONALD NANCY REAGAN WHITE HOUSE CHINA PLATEcarter_w.h._china_full_shot_jimmy-carter-white-house-china-dinner-plate-1.jpgHANDSOME 1983 RONALD REAGAN UNOFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA PLATE - SELECTED FOR EVERYDAY USE IN THE WHITE HOUSE, BUT NEVER USED FOR OFFICIAL STATE DINNERS - MFG. BY FITZ & FLOYD - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION 

In other words, the porcelain may be Presidential, but if it wasn’t used by the President in the White House, for state dinners, it’s not Official.

Nonetheless, there are a couple of exceptions to this rule. During the time of our earliest Presidents – George Washington and James Madison – there was no White House. Our first Chief Executives had to supply their own china. Today, the few remaining pieces from those collections are considered Official White House China because they were used by the then-President at their official executive residence for such things as official state dinners.

GEORGE WASHINGTON WHITE HOUSE CHINA PLATE

ELEGANT GEORGE WASHINGTON PLATE - NEVER USED IN THE WHITE HOUSE, BUT STILL CLASSIFIED AS OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION

Ultimately, it is the White House Curator who decides which china qualifies as Official, based on presidential usage for official state dinner occasions. The White House even publishes a book that depicts official porcelain from each administration. However, perhaps the best way to learn about Presidential china is to study our website. Mr. Raleigh DeGeer Amyx is not only passionate about the extraordinary artistry seen in these unique pieces, he is a longtime student of U.S. Presidential history and the fine details that distinguish Official from Unofficial White House China.

WHITE HOUSE CHINA BOOK

OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA BOOK, PUBLISHED BY THE WHITE HOUSE HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION, IS CONSIDERED BY RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX TO BE THE BIBLE FOR EXPERIENCED WHITE HOUSE CHINA COLLECTORS

RALEIGH DEGEER AMYX|JEFFERSON CHINA|PRESIDENTIAL CHINA|WHITE HOUSE CHINA|

RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX - HISTORIAN AND COLLECTOR 

World renowned collector Raleigh DeGeer Amyx has acquired a remarkable number of scarce or rare pieces of official White House China. Mr. Amyx’s passion for American historical artifacts has been his sole focus for nearly 40 years. Mr. Amyx's collection is the largest privately-owned collection of extremely high-quality, as well as the rarest, Official White House China and Presidential China in the world. If you would like to engage in a discussion with Mr. Amyx about White House China, please contact him through the button below.

BUY, SHARE, OR TRADE WHITE HOUSE CHINA AND PRESIDENTIAL CHINA

 

Tags: White House China

Determining the condition of Official White House China

Posted by RALEIGH DEGEER AMYX on Thu, Oct 12, 2017 @ 10:30 AM

george washington white house china

ELEGANT 1786 GEORGE WASHINGTON OFFICIAL PRESIDENTIAL CHINA PLATE IN NEAR PRISTINE CONDITION - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION

There are certain criteria that collectors generally use to describe the condition of a particular item. However, renowned White House China collector Raleigh DeGeer Amyx says he prefers to be more definitive.

In Mr. Amyx’s parlance, “perfect” means pristine or near pristine; because he acknowledges that perfection is in the eye of the beholder. “Excellent or overall fine” means the piece has a minor imperfection that does not detract from its overall appearance. From three feet away or so, the tiny imperfection would likely go unnoticed by most people. Beyond these two definitions, Mr. Amyx describes any particular condition issues on a piece-by-piece basis.

james k polk white house china dessert plate

STUNNING 1846 JAMES K. POLK OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA DESSERT PLATE IN NEAR PRISTINE CONDITION - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION
SEE EXAMPLES OF OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA

When a potential buyer or seller contacts Mr. Amyx about a specific piece of Official White House China, sending a photo of the item, along with notation of any potential condition issues, including size and location would be helpful. For example, Mr. Amyx might note “minor imperfection at 6 o’clock” and provide a description such as – a tiny chip at the edge of the porcelain, or loss of paint in the design.

Collecting is, in part at least, the art of negotiation. “When you go to sell or trade a piece,” Mr. Amyx reveals, “the ‘opposition’ naturally wants to find flaws, so as to negotiate a lower price.” As a long-term, experienced collector of Official White House China, Mr. Amyx does not purchase or sell pieces that are not pristine or near pristine. You’ll pay more, he admits, but the item won’t have condition problems that will require little or no explanation.

ULYSSES GRANT OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA SAUCERcarter_w.h._china_full_shot_jimmy-carter-white-house-china-dinner-plate-1.jpgRARE 1868 ROSE MEDALLION COVERED DISH/SAUCIER FROM THE ULYSSES S. GRANT PRESIDENTIAL CHINA - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION 

Besides, when it comes to White House China, perceived value comes from more than physical condition. Most collectors feel an affinity for the items they collect – the type of item, or perhaps the individual piece. For Mr. Amyx, the connection is personal. “Multiple Presidents usually used this porcelain. They put food on it, and used it repeatedly.” The china is more than an artifact that existed in the White House.

In the case of White House China, the particular design might also affect its appeal. “Artwork shouldn’t matter,” says Mr. Amyx, “but it probably does affect impulsiveness.” If he thinks an item is more beautiful, Mr. Amyx may feel it’s more desirable and therefore be more inclined to buy it.

johnson_china_vero_marks_whc_lbj_verso_2.jpg

VERSO FROM A 1968 LYNDON B. JOHNSON OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA PLATE - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION

Although we typically think of problems on the face of a plate that might affect condition, the back of a plate (or underside of a cup or bowl) may also have defects. There may be a chip underneath the rim, where it is not visible from the front. Or there may be minor damage to the base (the circular footing on the underside of the porcelain) that doesn’t affect the piece’s stability. But there is also another issue which may concern some prospective collectors -- a partial or missing stamped verso mark.

“Most bidders at an auction will have less experience with stamped markings,” Mr. Amyx notes, “and are therefore reluctant to bid higher on an item that has this perceived imperfection.” In the early 1800s, White House China, such as that produced for James Monroe carried trademarks that were applied by hand with a rubber stamp or stencil, then over glazed. But rubber stamps/stencils sometimes produced uneven marks, and they also wear out, so only traces of the trademark may appear on the verso, or nothing at all.

FDR ROOSEVELT WHITE HOUSE CHINA VERSO

VERSO ON 1934 FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA PLATE - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION

The White House’s Official China book always shows plates with perfect stamps, but Mr. Amyx says a less-than-perfect stamp shouldn’t detract from the value. In fact, most of the older Presidential pieces do not have perfect stamp marks on the verso.

All that said, there is a type of trademark imperfection which does detract from the value. In the last 100 years or so, manufacturers such as Lenox have used decals to apply trademarks. For Official White House China, the trademarks include the words “White House” and the date. However, workers can be interrupted or distracted, forgetting to apply the decal, or a portion of the decal. This omission materially affects “condition” because it is a mistake that should have been caught at the factory before the porcelain was ever shipped.

RALEIGH DEGEER AMYX|JEFFERSON CHINA|PRESIDENTIAL CHINA|WHITE HOUSE CHINA|

RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX - HISTORIAN AND COLLECTOR 

World renowned collector Raleigh DeGeer Amyx has acquired a remarkable number of scarce or rare pieces of official White House China. Mr. Amyx’s passion for American historical artifacts has been his sole focus for nearly 40 years. Mr. Amyx's collection is the largest privately-owned collection of extremely high-quality, as well as the rarest, Official White House China and Presidential China in the world. If you would like to engage in a discussion with Mr. Amyx about White House China, please contact him through the button below.

BUY, SHARE, OR TRADE WHITE HOUSE CHINA AND PRESIDENTIAL CHINA

 

Tags: White House China

Contact Raleigh DeGeer Amyx Online

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