Each First Couple has put their mark on the White House in one way or another – remodeling or redecorating, hosting different kinds of events and so on. One thing virtually all of them have done is select new Official White House China to be used for formal occasions. President Bill Clinton’s second term in office happened to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the White House residence, so not surprisingly the china he and Hillary chose commemorates that milestone.
They commissioned an American manufacturer – the esteemed Lenox – to design and produce 300 12-piece place settings. The china arrived in November 2000 and was first used at a dinner attended by former Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and George Bush as well as their wives and former First Lady Lady Bird Johnson.
UNIQUE SERVICE PLATE, FROM THE CLINTON OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA COLLECTION, FEATURES A BOLD GOLD BAND - MANUFACTURED BY LENOX - FROM THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION
SEE MORE OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA HERE.
In keeping with the distinctive occasion for which it was commissioned, the china itself is unique among presidential sets. The particularly beautiful service plate has an enormous gold band with intricate raised detailing. And for the first time, the north front of the White House is depicted on the plate’s center, instead of the official presidential seal. White House architecture is featured on the other plates as well. All have a yellow rim, but each type of plate has a different architectural motif. These highlight exceptional elements from the State Dining Room, East Room and Diplomatic Reception Room.
On the 10.5” dinner plates and the 9.25” dessert plates, there is also an image of the White House itself, positioned at 12 o’clock within the yellow border. Exquisitely presented, these designs represent the first time in the history of White House China that art played such a pivotal role in the creation of functional pieces. The dishes also carry an inscription on the verso that reads “The White House Collection” as seen below. The entire set of 200th Anniversary Lenox china cost about $500,000.
VERSO INSCRIPTION ON THE DISHES FROM THE CLINTON'S OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA COLLECTION
Bill and Hillary Clinton were the fifth of six presidential couples who have selected Lenox to produce their Official White House China. Interestingly, it wasn’t until the 20th century that any American porcelain was considered high enough quality to grace White House tables. President Teddy Roosevelt is reported to have complained, “We are dependent upon foreign factories for the very dishes from which the Chief Executive of the United States must eat.”
BILL AND HILARY CLINTON
Decades earlier, in 1826, Congress had mandated that any furnishings purchased for the White House must be made in the USA. However, Presidents repeatedly ignored this law when it came to their dinnerware, because porcelain made in Europe and China was far superior. Walter Scott Lenox was determined that his American pottery could and would produce equally fine china, and Woodrow Wilson was the first president to officially acknowledge his success. In addition to President Wilson and the Clintons, FDR, Truman, Reagan and George W. Bush have all chosen Lenox to produce their Official White House china.
Although President George W. and Laura Bush used the Clinton china often for White House State Dinners, they, too, commissioned Lenox to create a new set of 320 pieces not long before Bush’s term of office expired.
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 more than 35 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.